AS fighting between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi militia in Yemen continues, there appears to be little hope on the horizon for this impoverished country’s people. Hostilities at the moment are focused on the strategic Red Sea port of Hodeidah (currently under Houthi control) as the coalition fighting to restore President Hadi’s rule tries to wrest the city away from the militia. While there appears to be a stalemate in Hodeidah, sporadic bursts of violence show that the situation can deteriorate at any time. Last week, several civilian targets were bombed in the city, including a market, a hospital and the port. While the coalition was earlier blamed for the attacks, in which over 60 people died, the Saudis have denied involvement. Unfortunately in Yemen’s murky situation, the coalition and the rebels both have been accused of killing civilians. Particularly appalling was the 2016 bombing of an MSF-run medical facility in which a number of children were killed, as well as a strike on a wedding party in the same year, which killed around 70. The coalition was believed to be responsible for both attacks. In other atrocities, funerals and marketplaces have also been targeted.
It is not only death from the skies that haunts Yemenis; starvation and displacement add to their miseries. Around 22m people in the country are believed to require food aid while over 2m are internally displaced. Despite all this death and suffering, all parties involved — especially the coalition — must be asked what this ruinous war has achieved since it was launched in March 2015. Yemen, already a poor country, has been devastated and the coalition, particularly the Saudis, who infamously believed the war would be won in ‘weeks’, must be asked how close they are to achieving their goals of restoring Mr Hadi. Instead of continuing this abominable war, all belligerents must cease fire, open the doors to dialogue and encourage a Yemeni-led, Yemeni-owned political solution.
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2018