Letters (January 10, 2018)

Speak up to aid Yemen in crisis

This is a cry for help from the people of Yemen, the poorest Arab country on the Arabian Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia.

I lived in the coastal town of Aden, Yemen, 2010-11, teaching English to Yemeni students. That town and that country are being torn apart by a protracted, multi-layered civil war, begun in March 2015, between the Saudi Arabia-backed government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Iran-aligned Shiite Houthi rebels. The UN says Yemen is “the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.”

The U.S. provides weapons, logistics and air-refueling to the Saudi Air Force. In mid-March a strike on a Yemeni market killed 119 civilians, including 25 children. Remnants of the bombs showed U.S. GBU-31 satellite-guided bombs. The market was obliterated by double strikes coming 10 minutes apart. The strike also wounded 47 people and left charred bodies lying next to flour sacks and twisted metal.

The war has killed 13,600 people, including many children. Public infrastructure has been damaged and homes destroyed by Saudi attacks; more than three million people have fled their homes.

A staggering 1.2 million civil servants haven’t received their salaries in more than a year, leaving health, education and sanitation services without the people and resources needed to keep them running. Yemenis are dying from preventable illnesses: malnutrition, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections.

Yemen endures the world’s worst cholera outbreak: over one million cases and 2,227 fatalities since last April. And diphtheria (!) has seen 471 cases with 46 deaths since April. The international community stands by without taking action.

Contact your congressional representatives. Demand no more U.S. support for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemeni civilians, and for immediate humanitarian aid to Yemen. Several legislators, including Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), have proposed resolutions to curtail military aid to Saudi Arabia.

For more information: yemenpeaceproject.org.

Frank Janzen

Lawrence