For the Bony Bodies of Yemeni Children… You’d Never Become Poor by Giving!

Zeinab Daher

In Yemen, people get up early in the morning because of war, death and famine…

Although Yemen occupies a large noticeable area on the world map, it can barely go noticed in the hearts and minds of the entire people.

{The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills} – Holy Quran, Surat al-Baqarah, verse 261

It is not only Save the Children, Islamic Relief and other few charitable organizations that are helping Yemen and its inhabitants. There is a humble association in Lebanon that drew the country’s people’s attention to the tragedy happening in the forgotten spot of the world.

The Beirut-based Seven Spikes (7 Sanabel) association was founded in 2012.

According to its chief, Ms. Zahra Badreddine, the association tends to serve poor and needy people.

“Since one of our goals is to help those in need, as the Yemen crisis broke out, one volunteer within the association suggested that we help them. We publicized an advertisement to start raising funds for Yemen, and we provided the text with the official phone numbers of the association. People were suspicious in the beginning, even the close ones… they wondered how could we deliver such aid to the blockaded country. But they were also happy that there is side capable of delivering their donations. Money is transferred through special channels to the safe areas, where the amounts are used to buy necessary foods such as rice, sugar, other nutrients, in addition to medicines to the deprived families,” she explained.

We have delivered three batches of aid, and now we are fundraising for the fourth one. People donated gold coins during the third batch. And we, as an association, demanded to document the aid delivery in a video to assure donors that the help is destined to its people. And indeed, there was a report that documented the process with a banner raised in the targeted area with a thank you message to the association, Badreddine told al-Ahed News.

“Many people thanked us for opening them a door to help. They said that they are feeling the pain and suffering but don’t know how to help.”

She further elaborated that

“Due to the blockade, we couldn’t deliver food from here, we just send the money there and they take charge of buying food to those in need. An amount of $7000 helped feed 180 families.”

“We stressed that the donations target the most needy areas; those who are starving,” Badreddine concluded.

She closed her words by urging other associations and campaigns to open their hands and make every effort to help the Yemeni people.

And for those wishing to give a helping hand, the (7 Sanabel) association’s hotlines are as follows:

00 961 71021536

00 961 76835300

00 961 70678100

00 961 70653690

It is worth mentioning that the aid group restricted gathering the donations to its representatives, and for those found outside the capital city or even outside the country, the group is open to receive them via Online Money Transfer service [OMT].

Hereby, it is an invitation for all schools, universities and any other sides to take the initiative in solidarity Yemen.

Although the association’s capabilities only cover small areas, its people in charge harbor hopes that their initiative help widen the scale of aid given to the starving people, and lift the suffering there are struggling to end in the face of the years-long brutal war imposed on them.

In this respect, the latest UNICEF estimates reported that the total people in need are 22.2 million, 11.3 million of them are children.

In further details, the UN agency warned that Yemen has become one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian crises. Almost 80 per cent of the population is in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The war has led to the internal displacement of 2 million people, left over 1 million public sector workers without pay for two years, and undermined access to ports and airports, obstructing essential humanitarian and commercial deliveries.

The crisis has led to many problems among the following:

  • Growing food insecurity, poor water and sanitation, and the spread of preventable diseases threaten millions more. The caseload of outbreaks of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD)/cholera has reached over one million. The strain on an already weakened health system has been further compounded by the diphtheria outbreak in early 2018, with over 2,200 cases, so far
  • In addition, 16 million people lack access to safe water
  • Children are the primary victims: more than 6,000 have been verified as killed or maimed since the conflict began
  • Almost 394,000 children under 5 currently suffer from severe acute malnutrition [SAM] and require treatment
  • The damage and closure of schools and health facilities threaten children’s access to education and health services

Although the bony faces of Yemeni children can say it all, people should notice that famine is not caused by a shortage of food, it is rather caused by a shortage of sympathy and giving, and you cannot feel the hell they are suffering from unless you are in their shoes.

But if you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. You would never become poor by giving a small amount of the entire blessings you enjoy.

And always remember that we can’t help everyone, but for sure everyone can help someone.

So, this platform is meant to open your eyes to the fact that any one of you can give a helping hand. Borders are not a barrier. When you want’ to make something happen, then you’ll definitely find a way to do.

Source: Al-Ahed News

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The Tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s War on Yemen

The Tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s War on Yemen

Declan Walsh

Chest heaving and eyes fluttering, the 3-year-old boy lay silently on a hospital bed in the highland town of Hajjah, a bag of bones fighting for breath.

His father, Ali al-Hajaji, stood anxiously over him. Mr. Hajaji had already lost one son three weeks earlier to the epidemic of hunger sweeping across Yemen. Now he feared that a second was slipping away.

It wasn’t for a lack of food in the area: The stores outside the hospital gate were filled with goods and the markets were bustling. But Mr. Hajaji couldn’t afford any of it because prices were rising too fast.

“I can barely buy a piece of stale bread,” he said. “That’s why my children are dying before my eyes.”

The devastating war in Yemen has gotten more attention recently as outrage over the killing of a Saudi dissident in Istanbul has turned a spotlight on Saudi actions elsewhere. The harshest criticism of the Saudi-led war has focused on the airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians at weddings, funerals and on school buses, aided by American-supplied bombs and intelligence.

But aid experts and United Nations officials say a more insidious form of warfare is also being waged in Yemen, an economic war that is exacting a far greater toll on civilians and now risks tipping the country into a famine of catastrophic proportions.

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi-led coalition and its Yemeni allies have imposed a raft of punitive economic measures aimed at undercutting the Ansarullah revolutionaries. But these actions — including periodic blockades, stringent import restrictions and withholding the salaries of about a million civil servants — have landed on the backs of civilians, laying the economy to waste and driving millions deeper into poverty.

Those measures have inflicted a slow-burn toll: infrastructure destroyed, jobs lost, a weakening currency and soaring prices. But in recent weeks the economic collapse has gathered pace at alarming speed, causing top United Nations officials to revise their predictions of famine.

“There is now a clear and present danger of an imminent and great, big famine engulfing Yemen,” Mark Lowcock, the undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council on Tuesday. Eight million Yemenis already depend on emergency food aid to survive, he said, a figure that could soon rise to 14 million, or half Yemen’s population.

“People think famine is just a lack of food,” said Alex de Waal, author of “Mass Starvation” which analyzes recent man-made famines. “But in Yemen it’s about a war on the economy.”

The signs are everywhere, cutting across boundaries of class, tribe and region. Unpaid university professors issue desperate appeals for help on social media. Doctors and teachers are forced to sell their gold, land or cars to feed their families. On the streets of the capital, Sana, an elderly woman begs for alms with a loudspeaker.

“Help me,” the woman, Zahra Bajali, calls out. “I have a sick husband. I have a house for rent. Help.”

And in the hushed hunger wards, ailing infants hover between life and death. Of nearly two million malnourished children in Yemen, 400,000 are considered critically ill — a figure projected to rise by one quarter in the coming months.

“We are being crushed,” said Dr. Mekkia Mahdi at the health clinic in Aslam, an impoverished northwestern town that has been swamped with refugees fleeing the fighting in Hudaydah, an embattled port city 90 miles to the south.

Flitting between the beds at her spartan clinic, she cajoled mothers, dispensed orders to medics and spoon-fed milk to sickly infants. For some it was too late: the night before, an 11-month old boy had died. He weighed five and a half pounds.

Looking around her, Dr. Mahdi could not fathom the Western obsession with the Saudi killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

“We’re surprised the Khashoggi case is getting so much attention while millions of Yemeni children are suffering,” she said. “Nobody gives a damn about them.”

She tugged on the flaccid skin of a drowsy 7-year-old girl with stick-like arms. “Look,” she said. “No meat. Only bones.”

The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington did not respond to questions about the country’s policies in Yemen. But Saudi officials have defended their actions, citing rockets fired across their border by the Ansarullah…

The Saudis point out that they, along with the United Arab Emirates, are among the most “generous donors” to Yemen’s humanitarian relief effort. Last spring, the two allies pledged $1 billion in aid to Yemen. In January, Saudi Arabia deposited $2 billion in Yemen’s central bank to prop up its currency.

But those efforts have been overshadowed by the coalition’s attacks on Yemen’s economy, including the denial of salaries to civil servants, a partial blockade that has driven up food prices, and the printing of vast amounts of bank notes, which caused the currency to plunge.

And the offensive to capture Hudaydah, which started in June, has endangered the main lifeline for imports to northern Yemen, displaced 570,000 people and edged many more closer to starvation.

A famine here, Mr. Lowcock warned, would be “much bigger than anything any professional in this field has seen during their working lives.”

When Ali Hajaji’s son fell ill with diarrhea and vomiting, the desperate father turned to extreme measures. Following the advice of village elders, he pushed the red-hot tip of a burning stick into Shaher’s chest, a folk remedy to drain the “black blood” from his son.

“People said burn him in the body and it will be OK,” Mr. Hajaji said. “When you have no money, and your son is sick, you’ll believe anything.”

The burns were a mark of the rudimentary nature of life in Juberia, a cluster of mud-walled houses perched on a rocky ridge. To reach it, you cross a landscape of sandy pastures, camels and beehives, strewn with giant, rust-colored boulders, where women in black cloaks and yellow straw boaters toil in the fields.

In the past, the men of the village worked as migrant laborers in Saudi Arabia, whose border is 80 miles away. They were often treated with disdain by their wealthy Saudi employers but they earned a wage. Mr. Hajaji worked on a suburban construction site in Mecca, the holy city visited by millions of Muslim pilgrims every year.

When the war broke out in 2015, the border closed.

The fighting never reached Juberia, but it still took a toll there.

Last year a young woman died of cholera, part of an epidemic that infected 1.1 million Yemenis. In April, a coalition airstrike hit a wedding party in the district, killing 33 people, including the bride. A local boy who went to fight for the Houthis was killed in an airstrike.

But for Mr. Hajaji, who had five sons under age 7, the deadliest blow was economic.

He watched in dismay as the riyal lost half its value in the past year, causing prices to soar. Suddenly, groceries cost twice as much as they had before the war. Other villagers sold their assets, such as camels or land, to get money for food.

But Mr. Hajaji, whose family lived in a one-room, mud-walled hut, had nothing to sell.

At first he relied on the generosity of neighbors. Then he pared back the family diet, until it consisted only of bread, tea and halas, a vine leaf that had always been a source of food but now occupied a central place in every meal.

Soon his first son to fall ill, Shaadi, was vomiting and had diarrhea, classic symptoms of malnutrition. Mr. Hajaji wanted to take the ailing 4-year-old to the hospital, but that was out of the question: fuel prices had risen by 50 percent over the previous year.

One morning in late September, Mr. Hajaji walked into his house to find Shaadi silent and immobile, with a yellow tinge to his skin. “I knew he was gone,” he said. He kissed his son on the forehead, bundled him up in his arms, and walked along a winding hill path to the village mosque.

That evening, after prayers, the village gathered to bury Shaadi. His grave, marked by a single broken rock, stood under a grove of Sidr trees that, in better times, were famous for their honey.

Shaadi was the first in the village to die from hunger.

A few weeks later, when Shaher took ill, Mr. Hajaji was determined to do something. When burning didn’t work, he carried his son down the stony path to a health clinic, which was ill-equipped for the task. Half of Yemen’s health facilities are closed because of the war.

So his family borrowed $16 for the journey to the hospital in Hajjah.

“All the big countries say they are fighting each other in Yemen,” Mr. Hajaji said. “But it feels to us like they are fighting the poor people.”

Yemen’s economic crisis was not some unfortunate but unavoidable side effect of the fighting…

At the Sabeen hospital in Sana, Dr. Huda Rajumi treats the country’s most severely malnourished children. But her own family is suffering, too, as she falls out of Yemen’s vanishing middle class.

In the past year, she has received only a single month’s salary. Her husband, a retired soldier, is no longer getting his pension, and Dr. Rajumi has started to skimp on everyday pleasures, like fruit, meat and taxi rides, to make ends meet.

“We get by because people help each other out,” she said. “But it’s getting hard.”

Economic warfare takes other forms, too. In a recent paper, Martha Mundy, a lecturer at the London School of Economics, analyzed coalition airstrikes in Yemen, finding that their attacks on bridges, factories, fishing boats and even fields suggested that they aimed to destroy food production and distribution in Ansarullah-controlled areas.

Saudi Arabia’s tight control over all air and sea movements into northern Yemen has effectively made the area a prison for those who live there. In September, the World Health Organization brokered the establishment of a humanitarian air bridge to allow the sickest Yemenis — cancer patients and others with life-threatening conditions — to fly to Egypt.

Among those on the waiting list is Maimoona Naji, a 16-year-old girl with a melon-size tumor on her left leg. At a hostel in Sana, her father, Ali Naji, said they had obtained visas and money to travel to India for emergency treatment. Their hopes soared in September when his daughter was told she would be on the first plane out of Sana once the airlift started.

But the agreement has stalled, blocked by the Yemeni government, according to the senior Western official. Maimoona and dozens of other patients have been left stranded, the clock ticking on their illnesses.

“First they told us ‘next week, next week,’” said Mr. Naji, shuffling through reams of documents as tears welled up in his eyes. “Then they said no. Where is the humanity in that? What did we do to deserve this?”

Only two famines have been officially declared by the United Nations in the past 20 years, in Somalia and South Sudan. A United Nations-led assessment due in mid-November will determine how close Yemen is to becoming the third.

To stave it off, aid workers are not appealing for shipments of relief aid but for urgent measures to rescue the battered economy.

“This is an income famine,” said Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen. “The key to stopping it is to ensure that people have enough money to buy what they need to survive.”

The priority should be to stabilize the falling currency, she said, and to ensure that traders and shipping companies can import the food that Yemenis need.

Above all, she added, “the fighting has to stop.”

One hope for Yemenis is that the international fallout from the death of the Saudi dissident, Jamal Khashoggi, which has damaged Prince Mohammed’s international standing, might force him to relent in his unyielding prosecution of the war.

Peter Salisbury, a Yemen specialist at Chatham House, said that was unlikely.

“I think the Saudis have learned what they can get away with in Yemen — that western tolerance for pretty bad behavior is quite high,” he said. “If the Khashoggi murder tells us anything, it’s just how reluctant people are to rein the Saudis in.”

Source: NYT, Edited by website team

 

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Murdering a Generation: One Million More Children at Risk from Famine in Yemen

Murdering a Generation: One Million More Children at Risk from Famine in Yemen

Local Editor

More than five million children are at risk of famine in Yemen as the ongoing war causes food and fuel prices to soar across the country, charity Save the Children has warned.

Disruption to supplies coming through the embattled Red Sea port of Hodeida could “cause starvation on an unprecedented scale”, the British-based NGO said in a new report.

Save the Children said an extra one million children now risk falling into famine as prices of food and transportation rise, bringing the total to 5.2 million.

Any type of closure at the port “would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in immediate danger while pushing millions more into famine”, it added.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, said: “Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come. In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger.

“This war risks killing an entire generation of Yemen’s children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera,” she added.

The United Nations has warned that any major fighting in Hodeida could halt food distributions to eight million Yemenis dependent on them for survival.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 

‘Save the Children’ Warns 5 Million Children at Risk of Famine in Yemen

September 19, 2018

Yemeni starved kid held by his helpless mother

British charity ‘Save the Children’ has warned that 5 million children are at risk of famine in Yemen as the Saudi-led coalition continues its devastating war on the impoverished country.

On Tuesday, the coalition launched a campaign to control Yemen’s port of Hodeidah, according to state media in the United Arab Emirates, a partner in the coalition.

‘Save the Children’ has said that damage to the port or its temporary closure would increase food and fuel costs, putting 1 million more children at risk of famine.

‘Save the Children’ International CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt said the “nutrition crisis… has serious implications” for the country’s young.

“Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come. In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger. This could be any hospital in Yemen,” Thorning-Schmidt said.

“What happens in Hodeidah has a direct impact on children and families right across Yemen. Even the smallest disruption to food, fuel and aid supplies through its vital port could mean death for hundreds of thousands of malnourished children unable to get the food they need to stay alive,” she said.

‘Vital lifeline’

The port is a “vital lifeline” for goods and aid for 80% of the country’s population, the organization estimates.

“Even the smallest disruption to food, fuel and aid supplies through its vital port could mean death for hundreds of thousands of malnourished children unable to get the food they need to stay alive,” said Tamer Kirolos, ‘Save the Children’s’ country director for Yemen.

“It could drive up the price of fuel — and as a result transport — to such an extent that families can’t even afford to take their sick children to hospital.”

The United Nations has said an assault on the port city could, in the worst scenario, could kill up to 250,000 people. Around 70% of humanitarian aid passes through the Red Sea port.

The military offensive in the province started in June but fighting stalled, especially in Hodeidah, as the UN tried to bring warring parties to the negotiating table.

The latest attempt was in Geneva earlier this month but the Houthis didn’t travel as all sides blamed each other for obstructing the peace talks.

‘I could see her bones’

‘Save the Children’ provided testimony from Yemenis struggling to provide for their families.

A woman identified by the pseudonym Manal said that her infant daughter turned skeletal after she suffered from malnutrition.

“When Suha was six months she became sick,” she told Save the Children, which also changed the name of her daughter.

“I could see her bones; I could not do anything for her. I had no money for transportation. I had to borrow some money to take Suha to the hospital far away from our village,” she said. “Most of the time we eat two meals a day. In the morning we eat bread with tea and for lunch it’s potatoes and tomatoes. Usually, I don’t eat. I keep it for my children.”

Epidemic looming

Famine is just one humanitarian crisis facing the country’s beleaguered civilians. Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the war-ravaged country is teetering on the brink of a third cholera epidemic.

Cases are increasing near the capital, Sanaa, and Hodeidah, where the recent Saudi-led assault has hindered WHO’s efforts to prevent the disease.

“We’ve had two major waves of cholera epidemics in recent years, and unfortunately the trend data that we’ve seen in the last days to weeks suggests that we may be on the cusp of the third major wave of cholera epidemics in Yemen,” Peter Salama, WHO deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, told a UN briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.

More than 1.1 million suspected cholera cases have been recorded in Yemen since April 2017, according to the latest WHO figures, with more than 2,300 associated deaths.

Children killed in airstrikes

The Saudi-led coalition has also been involved in killing civilians, some of them children, including in a devastating attack on a school bus in August.

The bomb used in that attack was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, munitions experts told CNN.

Yemen has been since March 2015 under a brutal aggression by Saudi-led coalition, in a bid to restore power to fugitive former president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been injured and martyred in Saudi-led strikes, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

However, the allied forces of the Yemeni army and popular committees established by Ansarullah revolutionaries have been heroically confronting the aggression with all means, inflicting huge losses upon Saudi-led forces.

The Saudi-led coalition – which also includes UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait – has been also imposing a blockade on the impoverished country’s ports and airports as a part of the aggression.

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Starving Yemenis Forced To Eat Vine Leaves to Stay Alive

Source

In a remote pocket of northern Yemen, many families with starving children have nothing to eat but the leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste. International aid agencies have been caught off guard by the extent of the suffering there as parents and children waste away.The main health center in Aslam district was flooded with dozens of emaciated children during a recent visit by the Associated Press.

Excruciatingly thin toddlers, eyes bulging, sat in a plastic washtub used in a make-shift scale as nurses weighed them one by one. Their papery skin was stretched tight over pencil-like limbs and knobby knees. Nurses measured their forearms, just a few centimeters in diameter, marking the worst stages of malnutrition.

At least 20 children are known to have died of starvation already this year, more than three years into the country’s ruinous civil war, in the province that includes the district.

The real number is likely far higher, since few families report their children’s deaths when they die at home, officials say. In one nearby village, a 7-month-old girl, Zahra, cries and reaches with her bony arms for her mother to feed her. Her mother is undernourished herself and is often unable to breastfeed Zahra.

She can’t afford formula for her baby. “Since the day she was born, I have not had the money to buy her milk or buy her medicine,” the mother said. Zahra was recently treated at the heath center. Now at home, she’s dwindling away again.

With no money, her parents can’t afford to hire a car or motorbike take her back to the clinic. If they don’t, Zahra will die, said Mekkiya Mahdi, the health center chief.

“We are in the 21st century, but this is what the war did to us,” Mahdi said. After she tours villages and sees everyone living off the leaf paste, “I go home and I can’t put food in my mouth.”

The worsening hunger in Aslam is a sign of the gaps in an international aid system that is already overwhelmed and under pressure from local authorities. Yet outside aid is the only thing standing between Yemen’s people and widespread death from starvation.

The conditions in the district may also be an indication that the warnings humanitarian officials have sounded for months are coming true: In the face of unending war, hunger’s spread is outstripping efforts to keep people alive.

When AP approached U.N. agencies with questions about the situation in Aslam, they expressed alarm and surprise. In response to the AP’s questions, international and local aid groups launched an investigation into why food wasn’t getting to the families that need it the most, a top relief official said.

As a response in the meantime, the official said, relief agencies are sending over 10,000 food baskets to the district, and UNICEF Resident Representative Dr. Meritxell Relano said the organization is increasing its mobile teams in the district from three to four and providing transportation to health facilities.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of issues involved in operating in the war-ravaged country.

In first six months of this year, Al-Hajjah province, where Aslam is located, recorded 17,000 cases of severe acute malnutrition, higher than in any full year on record, said Walid al-Shamshan, head of the Health Ministry’s nutrition section in the province.

Malnourished children who were previously treated return to clinics in even worse condition – if they make it back at all.

“Deaths happen in remote villages where people can’t reach the health units,” Shamshan said.

“It’s a steady deterioration and it’s scary,” he said.

Yemen’s civil war has wrecked the impoverished country’s already fragile ability to feed its population.

The war pits Iran-backed rebels known as Houthis, who hold the north, against an Arab coalition, armed and backed by the United States. The coalition has sought to bomb the rebels into submission with an air campaign in support of Yemeni government forces.

Around 2.9 million women and children are acutely malnourished; another 400,000 children are fighting for their lives only a step away from starvation.

The number of people nationwide who would starve if they didn’t receive aid grew by a quarter over the past year, now standing at 8.4 million of Yemen’s 29 million people, according to U.N. figures. That number is likely to soon jump by another 3.5 million because the currency is losing value, leaving growing numbers of people unable to afford food, the U.N. warned this month.

Aslam is one of the poorest districts in the country, with hundreds of small villages, some isolated in the high mountains in the Houthi heartland. Its population of 75,000 to 106,000 includes both local residents and accelerating numbers of displaced people who fled fighting elsewhere. In terms of hunger, Aslam isn’t alone.

Health officials say that other districts closer to war zones may not be getting food aid at all. But Aslam did see one of the province’s highest jumps in the number of reported children suffering from severe acute malnutrition: From 384 cases being treated in January, an additional 1,319 more came in over the next six months, according to local health records. That comes to around 15 percent of the district’s children.

“Aslam is just another picture of Somalia,” said Saleh al-Faqih, a worker in a mobile Health Ministry clinic, comparing it to the Horn of Africa nation often hit by famines.

Aslam’s main health center has no pediatricians, no electricity, no oxygen cylinders. At night, medics use flashlights because there is no fuel for generators. Fathers beg in the nearby market for 300 riyals – around 50 U.S. cents – to buy a diaper for their child going into the center.

Before the war, the center would see one or two malnourished children a month. In August alone, it received 99 cases, nearly half of them in the most severe stages, the center’s nutrition chief Khaled Hassan said. Even after treatment, children often deteriorate once again when they go home to villages with no food and contaminated water.

There appeared to be multiple reasons why aid was not reaching some of the starving, beyond the rapid increase in those in need.

The lion’s share of assistance goes to displaced people, while only 20 percent goes to the local community, said Azma Ali, a worker with the World Food Program. Agencies’ criteria give priority for help to the displaced and households without a breadwinner, even as local residents also struggle to find food.

Under heavy pressure from Houthi authorities, international agencies like WFP and UNICEF and their Yemeni partners are required to use lists of needy provided by local officials.

Critics accuse those officials of favoritism. That especially works against the local population in Aslam, where many belong to the “Muhammasheen,” Arabic for the “Marginalized,” a community of darker-skinned Yemenis shunned by the rest of society and left to work as garbage collectors, menial laborers or beggars.

The Marginalized have no weight with officials to ensure aid goes their way. One humanitarian coordinator in Al-Hajjah said local Houthi authorities distribute aid unfairly.

“The powerful hinder the work of the humanitarian agencies and deprive of aid those people who are in most need,” he said. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of problems with the authorities.

Some residents said local officials demand small bribes to get on food lists – the equivalent of around 15 U.S. cents, but still too much for many people here. U.N. agencies have insufficient capacity to oversee many distribution centers.

Food deliveries that do make it to Aslam come irregularly or are too small or are missing items, residents and aid workers said.

People in Aslam have become increasingly reliant on leaves from the local vine, known in Yemeni Arabic as “halas” or in English as Arabian Wax Leaf. It used to be eaten only occasionally but now it’s all many residents eat for every meal.

Mothers spend hours picking the leaves, then washing and boiling them. Too much of it causes diarrhea. The water it’s washed in – well water often tainted with sewage – is also a constant cause of diarrhea.

In the village of al-Mashrada, Zahra’s mother feeds her whole family with halas mush. She has seven other children, including two boys with mental disorders who are kept chained inside their shack so they don’t wander away.

The children’s father roams the town, looking for food.

Zahra’s mother said only “the big heads” – the better-off and well-connected – end up with international aid. “We only have God. We are poor and we have nothing.”

SANCTIONS ON SYRIA: THE CRIMINAL, SILENT, KILLER

In Gaza

In 2016, I visited the centre depicted in the linked RT news report on the effect of western sanctions on children with cancer. At the time, the director told me they were trying to help 240 children, were underfunded and in debt, the people working there were volunteers, and (at that time) were facing constant power outages, as was the norm in Aleppo due to terrorists outside of Aleppo controlling the power plant.
Formerly, cancer patients in the north of Syria had excellent treatment at the Kindi Hospital, a massive complex that was respected throughout the region. It was truck-bombed by terrorists in late 2013, completely destroyed. In November 2016, I met and interviewed the former director of Kindi, Dr. Ibrahim Hadid. He emphasized how he tried to get the attention of international organizations both when the hospital was initially occupied by terrorists, and later when it was destroyed. He was met with silence.

Yet another obstacle for cancer patients needing treatment was the fact that for years, the road out of Aleppo would be cut by terrorists, meaning the 1.5 million or more civilians within greater Aleppo were under siege. Aleppo residents told me there were times where the siege lasted for weeks, and more.
The director of this centre rightly insisted there should not be sanctions on medicine. This is criminal. As noted in the RT report, 30 children had died of cancer in that area, due to western sanctions, according to the director.
I previously wrote about the issue of these criminal western sanctions on Syria, quoting Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, who I interviewed in December 2015. I noted:
In terms of how to provide actual relief to the Syrian people, Dr. Shaaban stated:
“The first thing the West should do in this battle against terrorism is to lift the sanctions from the Syrian people. The sanctions are helping terrorists against the Syrian people, who are suffering doubly from the terrorists and from Western measures against the Syrian people.”
Stephen Gowans recently wrote about the US government’s long-time plans to topple the Syrian government, sanctions being one part of the plot.
“Documents prepared by US Congress researchers as early as 2005 revealed that the US government was actively weighing regime change in Syria. …As an alternative to direct military intervention to topple the Syrian government, the United States chose to pressure Damascus through sanctions and support for the internal Syrian opposition.”
The advocacy website, End The Sanctions on Syria, notes: “Similar sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s were shown to have caused the deaths of more than half a million Iraqi children.”
The site went on to report that (as of May 2014), “701 of 1,921 Syrian health centres have been ‘completely gutted’ by the terrorist attacks. Yet rehabilitation of these centres is retarded by the US-EU sanctions, which have already left ‘a deep mark on the healthcare system’… including by blocking access to medicines, medical equipment, transport and communications.”
A May 27, 2015 article in The Lancet reports: “The cost of basic food items has risen six-fold since 2010, although it varies regionally. With the exception of drugs for cancer and diabetes, Syria was 95 percent self-sufficient in terms of drug production before the war. This has virtually collapsed as have many hospitals and primary health-care centres.
Economic sanctions have not removed the President: …only civilians are in the line of fire, attested to by the dire state of household and macro-economies. Sanctions are among the biggest causes of suffering for the people of Syria.”
Recall that last April, when the US and allies illegally bombed Syria on false pretext of Syria having used a chemical or nerve agent in Douma (didn’t happen), one of the targets was a facility in densely-inhabited Damascus which was involved in the local production of cancer treatment components.
As I wrote:

Regarding the actual nature of the buildings bombed, Syrian media, SANA, describes the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries Research Institute as “centered on preparing the chemical compositions for cancer drugs.” The destruction of this institute is particularly bitter, as, under the criminal western sanctions, cancer medicines sales to Syria are prohibited.

Interviews with one of its employees, Said Said, corroborate SANA’s description of the facility making cancer treatment and other medicinal components. One article includesSaid’s logical point: “If there were chemical weapons, we would not be able to stand here. I’ve been here since 5:30 am in full health – I’m not coughing.”

Of the facility, the same SANA article noted that its labs had been visited by the OPCW, which issued two reports negating claims of any chemical weapons activities. This is a point Syria’s Ambassador al-Ja’afari raised in the April 14 UN Security Council meeting, noting that the OPCW “handed to Syria an official document which confirmed that the Barzeh centre was not used for any type of chemical activity” that would be in contravention to Syria’s obligations regarding the OPCW.

Don’t be Deluded – Our Saudi ‘Partners’ are Masters of Repression

Kenan Malik

Five Saudi activists face possible execution. Their crimes? “Participating in protests”, “chanting slogans hostile to the regime” and “filming protests and publishing on social media”.

The five, including women’s rights campaigner Israa al-Ghomgham, come from the Shia-majority Eastern Province. They have spent more than two years in prison. Now the prosecution has demanded their deaths.

Their plight reveals the vacuity of claims that Saudi Arabia is “liberalizing”. The death in 2015 of King Abdullah and his replacement by Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has led to much gushing in the west about the new reforming regime and, in particular, about the “vision” of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir apparent and driving force behind the “modernization” moves. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote a fawning piece about the Saudi “Arab spring”. “It’s been a long, long time,” he wrote, “since any Arab leader wore me out with a fire hose of new ideas about transforming his country.” Even the fierce critic of Islam Ayaan Hirsi Ali has suggested that if the crown prince “succeeds in his modernisation efforts, Saudis will benefit from new opportunities and freedoms”.

Yes, Salman has allowed women to drive, to run their own businesses and to attend sports events. Cinemas have opened and rock concerts been staged. But the king remains the absolute ruler of a kingdom that practices torture, beheads dissidents and exports a barbarous foreign policy, including prosecuting one of the most brutal wars of modern times in Yemen.

Over the past year, dozens of activists, clerics, journalists and intellectuals have been detained in what the United Nations, an organization usually wary of criticizing the kingdom, has called a “worrying pattern of widespread and systematic arbitrary arrests and detention”. Few countries execute people at a higher rate. Under the current “reforming” regime, at least 154 people were executed in 2016 and 146 in 2017. Many were for political dissent, which the Saudi authorities rebrand as “terrorism”. A regime that permits women to drive but executes them for speaking out of turn is “reforming” only in a columnist’s fantasy.

For all the paeans, what really attracts western commentators and leaders to Saudi Arabia is that the regime’s refusal to countenance any dissent has until now created a relatively stable state that is also pro-western. Precisely because the Saudi royal family is deeply reactionary, it has long been seen as a bulwark against “radicalism”, whether that of the Soviet Union, Iran or local democratic movements.

Last week, in the wake of a Saudi bombing of a school bus in Yemen that left 33 children dead, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, defended Britain’s relations with Riyadh on the grounds that the two countries were “partners in fighting Islamist extremism” and that the Saudis have helped to stop “bombs going off in the streets of Britain”. In fact, Saudi Arabia bears more responsibility for the rise of ‘Islamist’ terror than any other nation.

From the 1970s onwards, flush with oil money, the Saudis exported across the world Wahhabism, a vicious, austere form of Islam that the Saud clan has used to establish loyalty to its rule after creating Saudi Arabia in 1932. Riyadh has funded myriad madrasas and mosques. It has funded, too, ‘jihadist’ movements from Afghanistan to Syria. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. So were most of the 9/11 bombers. A 2009 internal US government memo described Saudi Arabia as “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”. The Saudis have leveraged their knowledge of such groups to win influence with the west.

The viciousness of the Saudi regime is matched only by the cynicism of western leaders. The price is being paid by the children in that school bus and by the five activists facing possible beheading for peaceful protests; by the million of Yemenis on the verge of starvation and by thousands of Saudis imprisoned, flogged and executed for wanting basic rights. But what’s all that when set against the value of a “friendly” regime?

How the Media Keeps Americans in the Dark about the Slaughter in Yemen

By CJ Werleman

August 21, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –  A somewhat grainy video, presumably shot from a decade old cell phone, shows more than two dozen load Yemeni kids, aged 6 to 15, playing, laughing, and excitedly moving about their school bus, invoking warm childhood memories for anyone who has ever caught a bus to and from a school outing.

Moments later every single one of these kids were killed, vaporized by a Saudi fired missile.

This atrocity took place on 9 August, leaving 51 dead, 40 of whom were children, with most victims under the age of 10, while another 77 were seriously injured, according to the International Red Cross.

The US Department of Defense has tried to downplay the United States role in what must surely constitute a war crime and/or a crime against humanity by either arguing it’s still investigating the matter or by disingenuously minimizing its involvement.

“We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the US sold to them,” Army Maj. Josh Jacques, a spokesperson for US Central Command, told Vox. “We don’t have a lot of people on the ground.”

Well, we do know who sold Saudi Arabia the missile, and there are plenty of Yemeni journalists and international aid agencies in Yemen “on the ground.”

Remnants of the missile, which were posted on Twitter by Hussein Albikaiti, a Sana’a-based journalist, show its CAGE code, serial number, and the wording, “FIN GUIDED BOMB.”

A search of the CAGE code shows the missile to be issued by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, while the serial number shows it to be a MK-82 missile manufactured by General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas.

“A US made laser guided bomb did this 2 a bus full of school children,” tweeted Albikaiti. “The bus was directly hit by a Saudi-UAE jet, fueled by USA plane, coordinates by US and UK satellites. One bomb sent these happy children to the graves after burning them alive and cutting them to pieces.”

Worse – the British and US mainstream media is complicit in the cover-up of yet another atrocity in Yemen, like always!

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Maybe the most dangerous reality of the Trump presidency might be the media’s obsessive want to over analyze every tweet, off-hand remark, and gaff made by the current occupant of the White House, which, in turn, places television news networks at the centre of what has been a more than a 3-year long psychodrama if you count the 2016 election campaign.

The media’s obsession with this obviously unhinged and deranged US President comes at the cost of informing the American public of the horrors that are occurring in their name and with their tax dollars in countries many voters can’t even find on a map.

While CNN and a handful of other mainstream television networks carried news of the Saudi coalition missile attack on the school bus, there has been almost no follow up, leaving the public totally in the dark about the role the US played in this war crime, and in what has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

According to FAIR, a media analysis service, the left-leaning cable news network MSNBC has not run a single segment related to the conflict in Yemen since early 2017 but ran with more than 1,300 broadcasts regarding Trump’s probable but still speculated collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.

The US media demonstrates a proclivity to report on Yemen only when an American serviceman is killed, according to FAIR, with networks devoting substantial coverage to a botched raid on January 29, which left one US soldier dead alongside dozens.

On the August 9th strike in Yemen, the British media has fared no better. The Guardian, for instance, widely considered a “bastion of liberal values and humanitarian concern,” failed to feature the killing of 40 Yemeni children among its 13 headline stories, while the Independent failed to include it among its top 8 headlines, according to Middle East Eye.

Coupled with a lack of media coverage is the near total silence that emanates from both US lawmakers and the Department of Defense, with the latter holding only a few public hearings on Yemen since the conflict began more than 3 years ago, one that has resulted in more than 23 million Yemenis being in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

This is unconscionable and anti-democratic given the US provides the intelligence, guidance systems, warplanes, bombs, and missiles to the Saudi coalition.

Moreover, on the few occasions, Yemen is mentioned in the media, the extent of the human catastrophe is downplayed and underestimated. For instance, most media reports include a total death count of approximately 10,000 Yemenis, but aid agencies have estimated more than 150,000 died of disease and starvation in 2017 alone, with up to 130 children dying each and everyday.

According to the International Red Cross, 70% of the population needs aid to survive; 2.5 million have no access to clean drinking water; 1 in every 12 is severely malnourished; 940,000 are suspected of having cholera; while almost no medical supplies are getting into the country because of the Saudi blockade of Yemen’s ports, and the destruction of infrastructure throughout the country.

While this is a Saudi war of choice, it is planned and supported by the government of the United States, acting on behalf of the American taxpayer. It’s time the media report the full extent of the US role in prolonging the suffering in the Middle East’s poorest country so that voters can pressure their elected representatives into bringing an end to this senseless violence.

The lives of the next busload of Yemeni school kids depends on it.

CJ Werleman is a journalist, political commentator, and author of ‘The New Atheist Threat: the Dangerous Rise of Secular Extremists.

This article was originally published by “American Herald Tribune –

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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