Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: Yemen crisis

January 12, 2018

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To the editor:

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, 2010-2011, teaching English to Yemeni students. That town and that country are being torn apart by a protracted, multilayered 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 next to flour sacks and twisted metal.

The war has killed at least 10,000 people, including many children. Saudi warplanes have destroyed the infrastructure throughout the country. Yemenis are dying from preventable illnesses: malnutrition, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections.

Yemen endures the world’s worst cholera outbreak: over 1 million cases and 2,227 fatalities since last April. And diphtheria has seen 471 cases with 46 deaths since April.

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-Conn.), have proposed resolutions to curtail military aid to Saudi Arabia.

Comments

Steve Hicks 5 months ago

Frank, thank you for highlighting Yemen's agony. There's no greater humanitarian crisis taking place today. Your letter motivated me to do exactly what you suggest, and write to my Congresspeople.

Blessing to you !

Ken Lassman 5 months ago

Thanks for this, Frank. It places our "first world problems" in a very sobering context; one we should not dismiss lightly, especially since the extreme problems of Yemen have some indirect connections to our country. This connection is double-edged, however, as not only our funding the Saudi military and history with Iran play into the pain and suffering of the Yemeni people; it also gives us some leverage to alleviate some of their suffering through our influence with the Saudis and with assisting with NGOs access in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Yemen. I'll be writing my legislators too and reference some of the information you provided in your letter. It might sound crazy to some, but I'll send a copy to Sam Brownback on the outside chance that he will be able to play a role in providing humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people just as he provided assistance in Sudan while he was a Senator.

Steve Hicks 5 months ago

That's a good idea, Ken. If Brownback gets appointed some kind of "religious ambassador" too, maybe he can work an angle on that. It appears the Saudis' Wahhabi Islam is considered heretical by some other Muslims; and that Wahabbis sometimes regard mainstream Suuni and Shi'a Muslims (which most Yemenis are) as apostates who should be killed. Sounds like eligion might be an element in Saudis' viciousness towards Yemen.

Marc Wilborn 5 months ago

More likely the US provided money to both sides of this civil war. No one wins.

Frank A Janzen 5 months ago

Thanks for your reader comments. One important line of my letter, the last line, was left out in the printed letter in the paper: "For more information: yemenpeaceproject.org." Additionally, this Journal-World letter was limited to 250 words. I originally had 300 words in my letter, which included these other lines: 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. The international community stands by without taking action."

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