‘The worst humanitarian crisis in the world’

Posted by Tom Camfield

 Drawn-out agony, slow death—starvation, cholera—childhood in Yemen is pure hell. While here in the U. S., the president wallows in militant self-glorification, devoting most of his time to golf, inane tweets and personal pep rallies. All the while sucking up to the kingdom of cruelty that is Saudi Arabia.

Children are actually starving to death as the UN Children’s Fund continues  to call on the Saudi-led coalition and opposing Houthi rebels to allow aid to reach the famine- and disease-ridden. Among those dying recently was Amal Hussein, a 7-year-old Yemeni girl whose photograph in The New York Times became a symbol of her country's long-running conflict. She is pictured second from left in the top row of photos above. Her name translated as “Hope,” making her death also symbolic.

UN Children's Fund is calling on the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels in Yemen to allow aid deliveries to reach starving people. The director of UNICEF said Nov. 4 that 400,000 children are at risk of dying due to lack of food, 40 percent of whom live around Hodeidah. But instead of humanitarian supplies, more troops are arriving with the Saudi-UAE coalition's new offensives to take the vital port city.

Donald Trump, through it all, has been strutting about boasting of his deal with Saudi Arabia to provide arms and munitions with which to prolong this war. He claims, with his usual exaggeration, that the Saudi deal will put $110 billion into the U. S. economy and provide up to 500,000 new jobs (which is truly farcical; read more following).

He has made a special effort to make the public look at his personally-edited version of what he’s been doing, so I in my limited way am  just expanding the true picture some here. It’s all over the Internet—and has been for quite some time. 

In addition to the coming Thanksgiving holiday, Halloween also has come and gone, leaving memories of years when groups of children knocked at the door announcing “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” and holding out canisters. The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund was founded in 1946 at the end of World War II. Donald Trump this past year has cut back funding for foreign aid in various ways, including support via UN agencies. 

Back in mid-June it was reported that “the Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s exiled government launched a fierce assault on the crucial port city of Hodeida, the biggest offensive of the years-long war in the Arab world’s poorest nation for the main entry point for food in a country already teetering on the brink of famine. The attack on the Red Sea port aimed to drive out Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who have held Hodeida since 2015, and break the civil war’s long stalemate.

The protracted fight has forced a shutdown of Hodeida’s port, tipping millions into starvation. Some 70 percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of the country’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.The situation has been exacerbated by conditions also having triggered an unprecedented ongoing cholera outbreak .

One aspect of all this is the manner in which Donald Trump has remained cozied up to the Saudi regime during this bloody Yemeni Civil War that began in 2015 between two factions: the then-incumbent Yemeni government, led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, and the Houthi militia, along with their supporters and allies. Both sides claim to constitute the Yemeni government. Donald has continued to soft-pedal the recent murder and dismemberment in Istanbul of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The killing has been linked to Saudi de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi efforts tp abduct and silence rivals and critics has continued for many years and Mohammed bin Salman has pursued the practice with an especially ruthless zeal since gaining his position last year.

Donald has been more impressed by and concerned with Saudi Arabia’s arms-purchase agreement with the U. S., which supposedly runs some $110 billions of dollars. Great for the American economy says Donald, providing jobs in the manufacture of guns, munitions, military vehicles, etc. “Donald Trump has made it clear that whatever the outcome of the inquiry into the disappearance of the journalist from the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, the US will not forgo lucrative arms deals with Riyadh.”

Meanwhile, Donald—carried into a state of euphoria by his seeming plutocratic success—raved about hundreds of thousands, as many as a “million” American jobs as a result of his arms deal with the Saudis.  The increase would be more like in the 100s according to industry experts. Oct. 31, Daily Mail—“Every time President Donald Trump mentions the $110 billion arms deal he negotiated with Saudi Arabia last year, he quickly follows up, saying 'It's 500,000 jobs.' But if he means new U.S. defense jobs, an internal document seen by Reuters from Lockheed Martin forecasts fewer than 1,000 positions would be created by the defense contractor, which could potentially deliver around $28 billion of goods in the deal. Lockheed instead predicts the deal could create nearly 10,000 new jobs in Saudi Arabia, while keeping up to 18,000 existing U.S. workers busy if the whole package comes together - an outcome experts say is unlikely.”

As for the Yemeni population: if the bombings don’t get them, starvation will—along with cholera. Hard to say just where collateral damage becomes genocide.  But, man! Are we ever selling guns and bombs!

A TIME-LINE ON CHOLERAMay 26, 2017:  Newest chapter in ongoing crisis that began when civil war erupted in March 2015 was declaration of a a state of emergency in the Yemeni capital as the city faced a deadly outbreak of cholera. Cholera can be fatal within hours if left untreated. Hospitals were being stretched beyond capacity as they attempted to care for the influx of patients, many of whom were sleeping on the hospital floors, as beds were full. According to the UN Health Cluster, there were 124 cholera-related deaths from April 27 to May 14 and 11,046 suspected cholera/acute watery diarrhea (AWD) cases reported from 18 governorates.

At that point, more than 10,000 people already had been killed and millions more remained displaced by the war.

Dec. 22, 2017: A brutal campaign of recent airstrikes by Saudi Arabia had killed 10,000. Eight million people—one-third of the population—were teetering on the brink of famine. Eighty percent of the country lacked access to food, fuel, clean water and health care. The International Committee of  the Red Cross reported that 1 million Yemenis had contracted cholera in the preceding 18 months. More than 2,000 of those had died, according to the United Nations. 

It was the largest cholera outbreak in world history.

May 8, 2018: From fall 2016 to spring 2018, more than a million suspected cases of cholera were reported in Yemen –  a country of not quite 30 million people. The rate of new infections had finally slowed, but cholera was expected to return—in worse form—when the rainy season returned.

Aug. 3, 2018: The World Health Organization reported that an increasing number of cholera cases in several heavily populated areas over the previous few weeks indicated the country might be on the cusp of a third major wave of this deadly disease.

Oct. 14, 2018: The Ministry of Public Health and Population of Yemen reported 15,201 suspected cases and 37 associated deaths for the week of Sept. 17 to 23—of which 14% were severe cases. The cumulative total number of suspected cholera cases from April 27, 2017, to September 23 2018, is 1,207,596 with 2,510 associated deaths.

Children under 5 years of age represented 30.5% of the total suspected cases. So far, the cholera outbreak has affected 22 out of 23 governorates and 306 out of 333 districts in Yemen.

A FEW NOTES ON DONALD’S FRIENDS in Saudi Arabia—Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to power, many outspoken activists have been arrested or sentenced to lengthy prison terms simply for exercising peacefully their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Saudi Arabia is consistently amongst the world’s top executioners, with dozens of people being put to death annually, many in gruesome public beheadings.

Saudi Arabia’s courts continue to impose sentences of flogging as punishment for many offenses, often following unfair trials. Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison simply for writing a blog. 

Amputations and cross-amputations, which invariably constitute torture, are also carried out as punishment for some crimes. The Saudi Arabian authorities have been known to take punitive action, including through the courts, against peaceful activists and family members of victims who contact independent human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, or foreign diplomats and journalists.—Amestry International, Oct. 23

BY RUNNING WITH THIS CROWD our country is putting a cheap value on human life.


For more on Trump and his Saudi love affair, Google:  photo, Trump and saudi prince.

Related: https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/25/world/robertson-trump-un-worldview/index.html . . . and https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/23/opinions/trump-bin-salman-relationship-robertson-opinion-intl/index.html

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