Yemen has been in the midst of a violent civil war between Saudi Arabia-backed forces and Iran-backed Houthi fighters for the past six years.
Yemen’s political unrest reached a boiling point in 2015, when Houthi rebels — a Shia group from the northern part of the country — pushed out the US-backed Yemeni government and overtook the capital city of Sanaa. The conflict then became a complex, many-sided war, with Saudi Arabia leading forces against the Houthi fighters. The Saudi Arabian side has been supported by the United States and the United Kingdom.
Both sides of the war have had dire effects on the hunger crisis currently gripping the country. The Houthi have intercepted and limited food aid, while the Saudi side have bombed and destroyed farms and fishing boats.
The Saudis also created a blockade on Yemen’s air and sea ports, worsening the crisis immensely.
Although a few of these restrictions have been eased, the movement of fuel into the country is highly controlled, and many are attempting to live without essential resources. Many are dying as a result.
When asked by VICE News who they blame for the current blockade, disheartened Yemenis said they blamed America.
“If America tells Saudi Arabia, “Let the oil ship come (to the air and sea port),” then they will go directly. Because you know America controls the whole world. Biden says “If I become the president, I will let oil ships (come). I will stop the war.”
The dearth of fuel coming into Yemen has plunged the country deeper into an already urgent crisis. Without fuel it is more difficult to get clean water and electricity, hospitals are without power, and food prices have skyrocketed. The latter is especially troubling since more than 16 million Yemenis face what experts call “acute food insecurity” and have seemingly been abandoned by international aid agencies.
Approximately 400,000 Yemeni children are at risk of dying from starvation in 2021. Dr. Ahlam Obadi Aljahmi, a pediatrician at Al-Sadaqa Hosptial, told VICE that she is seeing more patients than ever before in her career:
“Patients don’t have money to feed the good, healthy food for their children. I think the war is the main cause of this problem. Some children stay here with me for three weeks and then they die. It’s very sad, I think. In my duty, I cry for the people. I hope all the war stops.”
Biden withdraws support for Saudi Arabia
President Joe Biden announced in March of 2021 that the US will stop supporting Saudi Arabia’s forces in Yemen. The decision is a result of legislation introduced by Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California. Khanna brought the measure — now known as the Yemen War Powers resolution — forward in 2017.
The resolution sat for years as the crisis in Yemen worsened, but has suddenly been championed by the White House as a new way of engaging with the war in Yemen.
“We’re being explicit and bold and open to the Saudis saying, ‘no, this is not a war we support,'” said Khanna in an interview with CNN. “Now I think that President Biden has made a clear statement that relationship is no longer what it once was.”