Amid the European Union’s Brexit, the United States impeachment and other issues that dominate the international headlines, there is what one might call the world’s forgotten conflict: Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation.
A brutal conflict that is devastating the country, where three quarters of the population now need humanitarian assistance or protection.
A conflict that often saw the attention it deserves taken by a just as much serious conflict in the neighbourhood – the one in Syria.
The United Nations has repeatedly described the Yemeni conflict as the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history.
As the conflict enters its fourth year, the UN estimates that over 22 million people—or three-quarters of the population—need urgent humanitarian aid and protection.
On the surface, the conflict is a religious war between Sunnis and Shiites. However, it is is more of a proxy war between two of the Arab/Persian worlds rising powers: Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Houthi rebels are waging a war with the supporters of Yemen’s internationally recognised government, with the former enjoying Tehran’s backing and the latter that of the Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights estimated that Saudi-led coalition air attacks caused almost two-thirds of reported civilian deaths. The Houthis, however, have carried their fair share too, with their siege of Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, as wel las with their hindrance to the vital distribution of humanitarian aid especially through the port of Hodeida.
Amid all this there is also a very active al Qaeda branch that was often targeted by the U.S. military.
On the brighter side, the United Nations said there are “small signs” of hope for Yemeni civilians caught up in fighting. There has been a reduction in violence, coupled with a 20 per cent increase in funding for the UN’s humanitarian response and, on the other hand, an ever increasing burden of the Saudi military amid backlash stemming from other issues.
Hope that is advancing in small steps whilst the most vulnerable of the population continues to pay a heavy price for power struggles that at the end of the day do not really concern them.