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The Largest Humanitarian Crisis in the World (Yemeni Civil War Speech)

The Largest Humanitarian Crisis in the World (Yemeni Civil War Speech)

By ishaani_dhanotra

The Largest Humanitarian Crisis in the World

In a world plagued with manmade disaster, Yemen has been coined with the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Less than a year ago, statistics showed that one woman dies every two hours while giving birth in Yemen, a totally preventable issue. The UNFPA, an extension of the UN, states that two thirds of the population sought humanitarian services in 2021 alone (UNFPA). Yemen is rapidly declining, and there’s one main source for it’s plight.

Bruce Ridel, an analyst with expertise on Middle Eastern relations, writes that Yemen’s government was driven to war with the Houthi rebels, who emerged because many believed that the government was corrupt, similar to many Arabian dictators of the time. When America invaded Iraq in 2003, the Houthis were radicalized and their animosity towards America’s close ally, Saudi Arabia, was heightened (Riedel). In Yemen, Saudi Arabia, with America’s support and aid, has attacked residential areas and killed countless civilians. America refuels Saudi’s planes, funds their missiles. As a civil war permeates Yemen, devastating humanitarian crises have arisen, and the surest way to begin solving them is to separate the countries that have attached themselves to the conflict, and in turn harmed millions of civilians.

There are many players in Yemen’s internal civil war, because of countries like America and Iran attaching themselves to either side of the conflict- for example, Saudi Arabia now gets aircraft “maintenance support” from America, while Iran is closely allied with the Houthis, according to a Middle Eastern relations writer from Vox, a well-known left-wing journal (Ward).

Although the countries in the Saudi-Arabian coalition, like America, are responsible for most of the carnage in Yemen itself, the Houthis are not an entirely innocent entity. Their notorious attacks on civilians have led to great despair; in fact, a recent incident where Houthi leaders killed 10 men and children in public caused a media uproar, and drew attention to the cruel methods of gaining power that both sides often employ (Schlein). However, while there is no clear correct side in this war, the Saudi-Arabian coalition has the most direct correlation to Yemen’s recent troubles. Sarah Whitson, former director of the Middle Eastern division of the Human Rights Watch, states that the damage done by Saudi Arabia and its allies is far worse in terms of quote “scale, severity and frequency” (Whitson).

Firstly, economic slowdown from both sides of the conflict closing off pivotal trading posts and ports, and six years of war, has led to famine and bankruptcy in Yemen. Even worse, countries are more hesitant than ever to give aid to Yemen during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, NYT journalists Shuaib Almosawa and Benn Hubbard, write that attempts from the U.N to raise $3.85 billion dollars only garnered half as much (Almosawa and Hubbard).

Continuing, The Globalist, an analytical and statistical magazine, illustrates the physical repercussions of this war, via this chart. 3,396 military sites have been attacked by the Saudi-led Coalition, and almost as many “ground forces” (The Globalist). Civilian territories, medical facilities, and schools have also been harmed. These numbers haven’t been updated since 2018, so the real damage is probably much higher.

Aljazeera wrote that Yemen’s war was projected to reach 377,000 deaths by the end of 2021, and that 65% of the population would be in extreme poverty by 2030. But how did the conflict get so cataclysmic in the first place? The same source further describes that the US's participation in the war is primarily the cause because of the resources they provide to the Saudi coalition, and how dropping out would save countless people (Whitson). To cure a country of this preventable demise means to look at the way that countries like America intervene in extraneous conflict, and the effect that has on a country’s actual inhabitants.



 

Annotated Bibliography:

Shuaib Almosawa and Ben Hubbard. Famine Stalks Yemen, as War Drags On and Foreign Aid Wanes. ProQuest, Mar 31, 2021, https://www.proquest.com/blogs-podcasts-websites/famine-stalks-yemen-as-war-drags-on-foreign-aid/docview/2507186265/se-2?accountid=44410.

Shuaib Almosawa and Hubbard, are discussing Yemen’s political climate and the effects that the ongoing civil war has had on civilians, families, children, and their resources and welfare. Throughout Yemen, starvation, poverty, and violence plagues families, and this article discusses how both sides are responsible for doing damage. This article is from the ProQuest database provided by LAHS, and thus is reliable. Ben Hubbard was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, while the other main author, Shuaib Almosawa, is a freelance journalist that has written for many other publications, and has a multitude of articles from the NYT about Yemen. It furthers the history of the war, which is spoken about in my Riedel source from Brookings.EDU, and shows how the war has furthered over time. I will be using this source to succinctly highlight the pain and damage that this war has caused for the average person in Yemen, and how badly so many are suffering.

“In Charts: The Yemen War.” The Globalist, 20 Apr. 2020, https://www.theglobalist.com/yemen-war-saudi-arabia-iran-us-arms/.

This source shows what the Saudi Arabian coalition has attacked in Yemen from 2015-2018. This includes important infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and water and electricity. This source is fairly reliable and statistical and fact-based. It is from The Globalist, which Wikipedia says is a magazine that offers analysis and statistics, which is exactly what I used it for. Of course, the information is skewed, but because Saudi Arabia has affected Yemen more than the Houthis, it makes sense that there are more statistics on them. The author of this article could be biased towards discussing the issues with the Saudi-Arabian coalition instead of the Houthis’ role as well. This connects to my Vox source, which states that Saudi Arabia is attacking many residential and important infrastructural areas in Yemen, harming civilians, with America’s help. I will be using this source for it’s statistical data, to show how exactly Yemen is being affected by the conflict.

Riedel, Bruce. “Who Are the Houthis, and Why Are We at War with Them?” Brookings, Brookings, 18 Dec. 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2017/12/18/who-are-the-houthis-and-why-are-we-at-war-with-them/.

Riedel wrote this article to talk about the history of the civil war in Yemen, and where the conflict and various opposing sides originated. Both sides have different connections and “partners” in the conflict, which is shown by how the Yemeni government is working with Saudi Arabia, and, in turn, America, while the Houthi Rebels are fighting alongside Iraq/Iran. This author, while talking about a non biased topic, is siding slightly more with the Houthi side of the conflict, probably because they aren’t attached to the corrupt government. The bias could therefore be present in which side the author shows as helpful to Yemen- although both sides of the war have committed atrocities, the article is written as though the government is far worse. This source connects, in turn, to my New York Times article, because it shows where the conflict arose from. The Houthis were upset with Yemen’s overall poor leadership, and that leadership attached itself to Saudi Arabia and America’s power. The conflict has just gotten worse from there. I will be using this article to show why the conflict in Yemen is so convoluted and what can be done to remove America and Saudi Arabia’s ties to Yemen.

Schlein, Lisa. “UN: Yemen Warring Parties Violate Civilians' Human Rights.” VOA, UN: Yemen Warring Parties Violate Civilians' Human Rights, 21 Sept. 2021, https://www.voanews.com/a/un-yemen-warring-parties-violate-civilians-human-rights/6237634.html.

This article delves into the “war crimes” and at times inhumane acts that both sides of this war have commited, recorded by US government officials. It describes how the conflict has affected civilians as well. VOA News is America’s oldest radio broadcaster, run by the government and controlled by the US Agency for Global Media. Although this creates a fair amount of bias, that can sometimes be necessary, because I was searching for an article that would describe not only the atrocities of the Yemen side of the war, but both sides, which are often talked about less in worldwide media. Because I was looking for an article just for the Houthi side of the war, this article was perfectly suitable. Because my speech is focusing primarily on why the Saudi-Arabian led side of the war is more responsible for the damage in Yemen, this is a bit of a standalone source. It doesn’t connect very much to anything, but will still be extremely useful. I will be using this article for my concession, to show that neither side of the war is perfect, and both have committed crimes against civilians- even the Houthis.

Ward, Alex. “The US May Still Be Helping Saudi Arabia in the Yemen War after All.” Vox, Vox, 27 Apr. 2021, https://www.vox.com/2021/4/27/22403579/biden-saudi-yemen-war-pentagon.

This article shows how although Biden reneged on the Trump Administration’s agreement to Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen, in the present day America still plays a large role in the Yemen war. This role has ranged, throughout the war, from refueling Saudi Arabian warplanes to just offering “maintenance support” for Saudi, but the real help that America is giving the country remains unclear. The only benefit is that no American is paying for this aid, it’s wholly coming from the Saudi government. The source, Vox, is a “left-to-center” journal that AllSides, a fact checker, says generally talks from a left leaning point of view, and doesn’t touch on many different perspectives. This is apparent in the article, as the Houthi/Iran side of the conflict is glossed over and there is more emphasis put on the idea that Yemen’s crisis is due to Saudi Arabia and America only. The author, Alex Ward, is an accomplished journalist that has experience in talking about international issues and foreign policy, and that also uses cited sources to back up his thinking. This source has a deep connection to my source on the history of the civil war in Yemen, from Brookings.EDU, by Bruce Riedel. Although this article describes more about the present state of affairs, they both discuss America’s role and prevalence in the conflict. This source is going to be incredibly useful for me, as I am going to use it to exemplify America’s huge role in the war, and thus why America stepping out of the war would solve many of Yemen’s problems.

Whitson, Sarah Leah. “Why the US Is Wrong to Designate the Houthis as 'Terrorists'.” Houthis | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 24 Jan. 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/1/24/why-the-us-is-wrong-to-designate-the-houthis-as-terrorists.

This source talks about the division between the damage done by both sides of Yemen’s war- the Saudi-Arabian coalition, and the Houthis. It describes how although America has coined the Houthis as terrorists, which ends up actually blocking aid to Yemen wholly, they too have their fair share of humanitarian oversteps. As already stated, Al Jazeera is a commonly cited news channel owned by the Al Jazeera media network, based in the Middle East. While this could harbor bias, there are many factual points the author, a lawyer and activist for Middle Eastern issues, makes as to why Saudi Arabia/ America should take more responsibility. Empirically, they have done more damage in the war, and led to more civilian disarray, and the article doesn’t shy away from naming both sides. I can connect this source to Alex Ward’s article from Vox, which shows how America is still intervening in the war. These sources connect because the Saudi-Arabian coalition is fueled mostly by America, via refueling, funding, and more, and this article demonstrates the direct effects of that. I will be using this source to punctuate my call to action: in order to stop Yemen from worsening, America needs to stop fueling Saudi Arabia.

“Yemen: The World's Largest Humanitarian Crisis.” United Nations Population Fund, https://www.unfpa.org/yemen#:~:text=Two%2Dthirds%20of%20the%20population,of%20health%20facilities%20are%20operational.

This article, from the UNFPA, highlights how Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, and is ever burgeoning. Specifically, it describes how women and children are being affected by the war, indirectly and directly, via statistics and data from the UN and UNFPA. The UNFPA is a United Nations agency, dedicated to “reproductive and maternal health worldwide” (Wikipedia). They focus on development and aid programs worldwide, including in Yemen. This source doesn’t offer a chance for bias- it doesn’t place blame on either side, nor does it state where they believe the war started, or who’s to blame. I can connect this source to my New York Times article by Ben Hubbard and Shuaib Almosawa, because they too categorically describe the effects of the Yemen crisis. This source is going to be used to show why it’s incredibly important that the conflict is stopped imminently, and why it’s wrong for America to be playing such a large role in the first place.

Al Jazeera. “Yemen War Deaths Will Reach 377,000 by End of the Year: UN.” United Nations News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 23 Nov. 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/11/23/un-yemen-recovery-possible-in-one-generation-if-war-stops-now.

This source is a statistical article that provides insight into a United Nations Development Program study from 2021, with insight on how Yemen’s war is going to worsen in the next ten years. It discusses what is going to happen in the next decade, until 2030, but also what would happen if the war were to end now, and how much that would benefit the people of Yemen. Al Jazeera is a commonly cited news channel owned by the Al Jazeera media network, with its base in the Middle East. Although this could prove to cause bias, the article is merely relaying information from a study, with no new opinion attached to it. It is describing statistical numbers based on an outside study, so there’s no room for bias. This source connects to my source from the New York Times, by Shuaib Almosawa, and Ben Hubbard, about the effects of the war. They are incredibly similar in subject matter and the type of information that they are providing, and are going to prove invaluable in my speech because in order to be persuasive, I need to describe fully the extent of the war and how it’s affecting people. I will be using this source to provide a number-based insight into what is actually happening in Yemen, as a direct result of the war.




 

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