Yemen war: More than half of British people unaware of ongoing conflict seeing UK weapons deployed by Saudis

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More than half of British people are unaware of the “forgotten war” underway in Yemen, despite the Government’s support for a military coalition accused of killing thousands of civilians.

A YouGov poll seen exclusively by The Independent showed 49 per cent of people knew of the country’s ongoing civil war, which has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced three million more and left 14 million facing starvation.

The figure was even lower for the 18 to 24 age group, where only 37 per cent were aware of the Yemen conflict as it enters its third year of bloodshed.

More than 2,100 people were given a list of 16 countries and asked to identify any “currently involved in an ongoing armed conflict” for the research, with 84 per cent naming the Syrian civil war.

The Human Appeal, a Manchester-based charity that commissioned the poll, warned a lack of international awareness was worsening a worsening humanitarian crisis in the Yemen.

“The crisis in Yemen has been forgotten about or ignored completely,” said CEO Othman Moqbel.

“We believe this is because that the conflict has not generated a huge amount of refugees coming to Europe and there is the misperception amongst the public that it’s only a regional crisis.

“To treat what is currently happening in Yemen, and has been happening for two years, as something insignificant is turning a blind eye to the escalating humanitarian emergency.”

At least 75 people are estimated to be killed or injured every day in the conflict, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine as 14 million people lack a stable access to food.

Almost 3,800 civilians have been killed by the conflict, where President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government is fighting Houthi rebels and fighters loyal to the former President, President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The conflict started in March 2015 after an opposition offensive drove the government out of the capital Sana’a, sparking an intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies to support the internationally recognised government.

The UN human rights office said the Saudi-led air campaign, seeing rebel-controlled areas heavily bombarded, was responsible for 60 per cent of civilian deaths – almost 2,300 lives.

British-manufactured weapons, including cluster bombs, have been used in the strikes, despite calls by MPs to suspend sales to Saudi Arabia over war crimes allegations.

Peter Salisbury, a senior research fellow in the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, said Britain was the principal sponsor of a UN Security Council resolution used by Saudi Arabia to justify its intervention.

“The UK is also a huge arms supplier and provides a great deal of logistical support to Saudi forces,” he told The Independent.

“Arguably the UK has also given political coverage to the Saudis by preventing various resolutions and investigations from happening.”

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Theresa May meeting King Salman of Saudi Arabia in December at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Bahrain (Getty)

Mr Salisbury said that while opposing the attempted coup in Yemen, the British Government was “quiet” about the military overthrowing Egypt’s elected government in 2013.

“The decision was made that Yemen was a ‘bad coup’,” he added. “And that in many ways comes down to where allies sit.”

Iran supports Houthi forces in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies supporting the Hadi government.

As battles continue, the Human Appeal is among international charities attempting to provide aid to Yemen’s impoverished population.

It has provided food parcels to thousands of families, clean drinking water for 37,500 people, blankets, clothing and healthcare projects including supporting the Al Jumhori public hospital.

Hundreds of Somali refugees who originally fled conflict in their home country are among those caught up in the violence in Yemen, with more than 40 massacred by a helicopter gunship as they attempted to flee on a boat on Thursday night.

While the humanitarian situation deteriorates, the conflict has largely reached a stalemate, with rebels controlling much of densely populated western Yemen, the Hadi government in the centre and east and pockets of territory held by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsuala (AQAP), Islamist militias and Isis.

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Yemenis inspect damaged houses following reported Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sanaa (Getty)

But the UN Refugee Agency has warned of intensified hostilities in recent weeks, forcing more than 62,000 people from their homes in western and central Yemen, who are now sleeping in public buildings, tents, on the streets or in ruined buildings.

Calling Yemen a “forgotten war”, Mr Salisbury said neither a peaceful resolution nor an outright victory for any party was likely in the near future.

“The Trump presidency could see US play a more decisive role,” he added, although American forces have mainly been targeting AQAP terrorists, including in a botched raid that killed dozens of civilians earlier this year.

“Yemen is not an island, it is connected to other countries and the rest of the world and we’re seeing this massive growth in sectarian violence.

“All of these things have long-tern consequences for countries outside of Yemen.”

The British Government stresses that although it the Saudi-led intervention “to deter aggression by the Houthis and allow for the return of the legitimate Yemeni Government”, it is not part of the coalition.

“British personnel are not involved in carrying out strikes, directing or conducting operations in Yemen, nor involved in the Saudi targeting decision-making process,” a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told The Independent

“Peace talks are the top priority. The UK has played a leading role in diplomatic efforts, including bringing together key international actors to try and find a peaceful solution.”

The UK is the fourth largest donor to Yemen, committing £103 million in humanitarian aid last year.

Saudi Arabia, member of UNHRC blocks Yemen’s largest port to stop humanitarian aid

Saudi Arabia’s Blockade Of Yemen’s Largest Port Expected To Worsen Humanitarian Crisis

UN elects Saudi Arabia to Human Rights Council

Despite a warning from the UN to end its existing blockades of Yemeni ports, a Saudi-led coalition is planning another major assault on the nation’s largest port city of Al Hudaydah, a move that threatens to worsen Yemen’s already unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

 

A Yemeni man looks at a World Food Program ship at the port of Aden, Yemen

A Yemeni man looks at a World Food Program ship at the port of Aden, Yemen, Tuesday, July 21, 2015.

MINNEAPOLIS – While the Syrian conflict has long dominated international coverage of Middle Eastern crises, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been continually overlooked by the mainstream media. Since March 2015, the nation has been in a state of chaos following the overthrow of former Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was installed by the United States and Saudi governments, by a grassroots political movement led by the Houthis.

Following the Houthi-led coup, Saudi Arabia essentially invaded Yemen, eager to maintain control over the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, a critical area for the region’s oil trade. The Saudis’ efforts to maintain their undue influence in Yemeni politics and maintain hegemony over a key oil route has now manifested as a war effort bordering on genocide — one that has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians. In addition, more than a third of Saudi airstrikes in the nation are believed to have destroyed civilian targets.

Despite the severity of the crisis, as well as Saudi Arabia’s apparent penchant for bombing hospitals and civilian infrastructure, the U.S. has remained unusually silent, essentially turning a blind eye in the face of repeated war crimes committed by its ally. The U.S. has involved itself militarily in Yemen to aid in the Saudis’ destruction of their southern neighbor, launching missiles and – more recently – botched raids that claimed the lives of numerous civilians, including an eight-year-old U.S. citizen.


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The U.S. has also enabled the Saudis to commit war crimes in Yemen by continuing to sell them millions of dollars in weapons, despite their documented tendency to attack and bomb civilians. While the U.S. has been quick to accuse other nations of similar atrocities in Syria, it has been eerily silent, as well as complicit in, the crimes committed by Saudi Arabia.

The combination of minimal media attention, as well as tacit U.S. support for the Saudi war effort, has Yemen on the verge of collapse. According to the NGO Save the Children, tens of thousands of children in the embattled nation are dying due to the collapse of the country’s health care system. Since Saudi Arabia first invaded, more than 270 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, many directly by the Saudis.

In addition, more than half of Yemen’s estimated 3,500 health facilities are closed or barely functioning, leaving nearly eight million Yemeni children without access to adequate health care, resulting in the deaths of nearly a thousand children every week, according to estimates.

But the health crisis is only part of the suffering that has become a daily reality for Yemenis. Famine is also taking its toll, with an estimated 19 million people – two-thirds of Yemen’s entire population – in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. More than half of the nation is suffering from a lack of adequate nutrition, according to UN estimates, with more than 370,000 children under the age of five suffering from severe malnutrition.

Much of the famine is preventable, as it has largely manifested as a direct result of the Saudis’ naval blockade of key Yemeni ports. Recent changes to Yemen’s central bank also threaten to rob many Yemenis of their capacity to purchase what little food is still available in the country.

In this Tuesday, March 22, 2016 photo, infant Udai Faisal, who is suffering from acute malnutrition, is hospitalized at Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Udai died on March 24. Hunger has been the most horrific consequence of Yemen’s conflict and has spiraled since Saudi Arabia and its allies, backed by the U.S., launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade a year ago. (AP Photo/Maad al-Zikry)

In this Tuesday, March 22, 2016 photo, infant Udai Faisal, who is suffering from acute malnutrition, is hospitalized at Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Udai died on March 24th. Hunger has been the most horrific consequence of Yemen’s conflict and has spiraled since Saudi Arabia and its allies, backed by the U.S., launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade two year ago. (AP/Maad al-Zikry)

Despite UN pleas to the Saudis to end their blockades, the Saudis and their anti-Houthi coalition have announced plans to assault Al Hudaydah, Yemen’s largest port city. Catherine Shakdam, associate director of the Beirut Center for Middle Eastern Studies and an expert on Yemen, told MintPress that “government officials in Hodeida have already confirmed an increase in attacks in Yemeni waters” as a result of the latest Saudi-led assault. She added that “fishermen have been shot at for trying to feed their families and drones have been spotted doing what is believed to be reconnaissance work.”

Shakdam added that this assault is only the most recent effort by the Saudis to cripple the strategic port city, remarking that the Saudis are “determined to punish civilians in the hope they will rise against the resistance movement and defeat its forces from the inside.”

Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the Saudis’ latest plan to cripple the Houthi movement, saying that the operation “would not only inevitably lead to a mass exodus of the [local] population but would also de facto cut the [Yemeni] capital of Sanaa from… food and humanitarian aid supplies.” The U.S. has yet to comment on the plan, but its silence thus far already speaks volumes

Save the Children: Saudi Delaying Yemen Aid is «Killing Children»

Samuel Osborne

Children have died as a result of Saudi Arabia delaying aid for Yemen by months, a children’s rights group have warned.

Yemeni children

Save the Children said shipments of aid are being delayed for months, denying hundreds of thousands of people access to urgently-needed medical aid.

In the first two months of the year, the Saudi-led coalition has prevented three of the charity’s shipments of medical supplies from landing at the country’s main group of Hodeida, the group said, forcing them to be rerouted and delaying their arrival by up to three months.

The shipments were carrying enough aid to help around 300,000 people, including antibiotics, surgical equipment, medicine to treat diseases like malaria and cholera, and supplies to support malnourished children.

In the latest example, a two-ton shipment of Save the Children’s medical supplies and equipment held off the coast of Hodeida then forced to reroute by the Saudi-led coalition.

The ship, carrying supplies for 40,000 people including 14,000 children under the age of five, arrived in the smaller port of Aden 83 days later.

Supplies often have to cross active conflict zones from Aden, putting both the supplies and humanitarian staff at risk.

Grant Pritchard, interim country director for Save the Children in Yemen, said: “These delays are killing children. Our teams are dealing with outbreaks of cholera, and children suffering from diarrhea, measles, malaria and malnutrition.

“With the right medicines these are all completely treatable – but the Saudi-led coalition is stopping them getting in. They are turning aid and commercial supplies into weapons of war.

He added: “The British public has generously donated millions of pounds to a DEC appeal for Yemen, quite understandably expecting aid would reach people in need as quickly as possible.

“To see the Saudi-led coalition blocking shipments of humanitarian supplies is simply unforgivable. The UK Government must do more to make sure aid for Yemen gets where it needs to go.”

A United Nations official visiting both sides in Yemen’s war urged them to guarantee more access to the country’s ports to let in food, fuel and medicine imports.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting that has unleashed a humanitarian crisis on the impoverished country. Fighting in or near ports hampers access for aid coming from outside.

Earlier this month, the UN said Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, … had hampered humanitarian operations to import vital food and fuel supplies.

Five cranes at the port have been destroyed, forcing dozens of ships to line up offshore because they cannot be unloaded.

Nearly 3.3 million people in Yemen – including 2.1 million children – are acutely malnourished, the UN says. They include 460,000 children under age of five with the worst form of malnutrition, who risk dying of pneumonia or diarrhea.

The Saudi embassy in London could not be reached for comment.

Source: The Independent, Edited by website team

02-03-2017 | 08:43

Yemeni Villagers Dying of Starvation

[ Ed. note – It would appear that all the horrible war crimes US officials and the mainstream media have been alleging against Russia and the Syrian government are in reality being perpetrated by the Saudis–and, from the looks of it, maybe even far worse. Where’s Obama? Where’s John Kerry? Where are all the neocons who have been theatrically voicing their anguish over the people of Aleppo? How come we’re not hearing from them on the horrible situation in this Yemeni town? How come the Saudis are allowed to fire upon Yemeni fishermen when they try to take their boats to sea to catch fish, and Samantha Power has nothing to say about it at the UN? I guess, come to think of it, for the same reason she doesn’t say anything when Israelis fire upon Gaza fishermen. ]

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No Food, No Medicine, No money: Yemeni Town Faces Mass Death by Starvation

RT
Nearly 19 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid, according to the UN, but the worst of the civilian impact of the two-year civil war in the country has fallen on the coastal fishing area around the Red Sea coastal district of Tuhayat.

As RT’s Arabic-language crew visited the area, they witnessed scenes of chaos – as locals scrambled to gain food – and quiet desperation, with many residents swollen with hunger, waiting for outside help, or resigned to their fate.

Continued here

Aleppo’s Victory: Defeated Militants’ Evacuated, UN Warns: Militants Using Civilians as Shields

Local Editor

A new agreement has been reached for the evacuation of militants from the last pocket of territory they control in Aleppo, a senior Syrian military source told AFP Thursday.

Aleppo's Victory: Defeated Militants' Evacuated, UN Warns: Militants Using Civilians as Shields

“A deal has been reached for militants to leave, and the preparations are happening now,” the source said.

He made no mention of any arrangements for the evacuation of civilians. The militants had said that their departures would begin from dawn after a deadly setback on Wednesday.

This comes as the UN’s Commission of Inquiry for Syria [COI] said Wednesday it had received reports that opposition militants were blocking civilians from fleeing Aleppo and using them as human shields.

In a statement, the COI said it had “allegations of opposition groups… preventing civilians from leaving as well as opposition fighters embedding themselves within the civilian population, thus heightening the risk to civilians of being killed or injured.”

It specifically implicated al-Qaeda’s former affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front and the powerful Ahrar al-Sham militant group.

Meanwhile, Syrian troops have made fresh advances in an eastern neighborhood of Aleppo as part of their offensive to drive out the last remnants of foreign-backed militants from the city.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had won back half of the Sukkari district, which was among the last areas in Aleppo remaining under the control of terrorists.

Syria’s state-run television network said government forces are now in control of 99 percent of Aleppo, with militants cornered into a small slither of land.

Hundreds of foreign-backed militants have laid down arms in Aleppo since Tuesday, and almost 6,000 civilians have left militant-held districts.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

15-12-2016 | 10:52

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Israel’s Blockade of Gaza, Every day Palestinians live in fear of another U.S.-funded attack by the Israeli government

Israel’s Blockade of Gaza

Every day Palestinians live in fear of another U.S.-funded attack by the Israeli government

by , October 29, 2016

This fall, the U.S. agreed to provide $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next ten years, ensuring America’s continued role in funding the occupation of Palestine. Meanwhile, my friends and colleagues here in Gaza live in fear of another significant Israeli attack in the near future.

They have every reason to fear another major escalation – violence is a daily reality in Gaza. In two recent incidents, a rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel without causing damage or injuries, and in both instances Israel responded by bombing targets throughout Gaza.

In August alone, Israel bombed more than 50 locations in the small territory.

The simple story told about these events focuses on action and reaction: Palestinians attacked Israel with a rocket and Israel responded. We hear this logic after nearly every event of this sort, but it’s woefully incomplete.

In both instances, the rockets fired weren’t fired by Hamas, but rather by small radical armed groups at odds with Hamas, which governs Gaza. These groups seek to incite Israeli attacks on Hamas with the goal of destabilizing its control over Gaza, because they see Hamas as too comfortable with the status quo.

Since seizing power in 2007, Hamas has worked to control and limit violence from the territory. Outside of periods of defined military escalation – which tend to be precipitated by Israeli attacks – they have effectively stopped attacks against Israel from Gaza.

This explains why, as noted by the Israeli press, there were only 14 rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel between January and August this year. None were fired by Hamas, so Israel’s decision to target Hamas as a response makes no sense.

Of course, 14 rockets fired from Gaza is 14 too many for those of us committed to ending all violence, and none of this should be taken as an apology for other violence perpetrated by Hamas.

But, as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories reports, there were also 45 Israeli military incursions into Gaza this year, resulting in 7 Palestinian deaths and, on average, injuring five Palestinians in Gaza every week.

This is the part of the story that isn’t told.

Gaza also remains under an Israeli-imposed blockade that severely limits travel, trade, and life for Gazans. Despite assurances that restrictions would be lifted in the 2014 Hamas-Israel ceasefire agreement, the blockade remains in effect.

Israel, with support from the US government, claims this decades-long blockade is in place to pressure the people of Gaza to rise up against Hamas and provide security for Israelis.

If those are Israel’s raisons d’etre, then it’s a complete failure. It hasn’t stopped violence, it hasn’t weakened Hamas, and it hasn’t brought Israelis or Palestinians security.

While the blockade hasn’t succeeded in achieving the changes Israel claims to be seeking, its impact on the civilian population of Gaza has been immense.

Over two years after the end of the last large military operation there, much of Gaza remains in ruins.

Of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza who were displaced during the 2014 Israeli bombardment, over 65,000 remain homeless, as 70 percent of the homes seriously damaged or destroyed haven’t been rebuilt. This is largely because reconstruction materials remain blocked from entering Gaza.

This important context is too often missing as US pundits and politicians consider the situation in Gaza.

Given the blockade and regular military incursions imposed by Israel, the firing of less than 2 rockets per month by Palestinians cannot be seen as the core reason for violence.

If the US is serious about promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, preventing future violence in Gaza, and guaranteeing security, then it must recognize the violence inherent in the Israeli occupation and end the blockade.

The next attack on Gaza, feared by my friends who live there, is an inevitable reality if nothing changes.

Mike Merryman-Lotze has worked with the American Friends Service Committee as the Palestine-Israel Program Director since 2010. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

“Intl community financing and protecting terrorists…’White Helmets’ are terrorist supporters” [Mother Agnes-Mariam de la Croix and Vanessa Beeley]

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