We’re circling back on the crisis in Yemen. Let’s start with the (simplified) background.
Yemen has been in a political crisis since 2011.
The authoritarian President at the time, Ali Abdullah Saleh, resigned in 2012 after there was a revolution in 2011-2012 (that included a series of large protests against the government). The resignation was an attempt to bring stability to Yemen.
However, stability was not a reality. Replacement (and current) President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi faced militant attacks, corruption, food insecurity, and loyalty of military officers to former President Saleh — ultimately struggling to bring much-needed peace and stability.
In 2014, a Civil War broke out between the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led Yemeni government and the Houthi Shia Muslim rebel movement. The Houthi movement seized control of the northern Saada province and neighbouring areas and went on to take the capital Sanaa, forcing Hadi into exile abroad.
The violence escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states — backed by the U.S., UK, and France conducted airstrikes against the Houthi movement. The airstrikes aimed to restore the Hadi government. The violence has since been ongoing, leaving the situation in Yemen being labelled the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The devastating consequences were highly spoken about on social media mid-to-late last year, but what has happened since? Let’s take a look at some key events, especially during 2021, below:
The conflict has not stopped. There is still violence.
In February 2021, there was the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2564 calling for sanctions in Yemen against “destabilising actors” however, the Houthis rejected the latest resolution.
Saudi Arabia in March this year offered a ceasefire plan to Houthi rebels that would go into effect “…as soon as the Houthis agree to it”. The violence has not stopped.
The pandemic is an ongoing, but devastating issue in Yemen. Considering healthcare resources were strained from the political crisis and violence, as well as cholera, dengue fever, and malaria outbreaks, the health system has been left incapable of coping with the pandemic. Due to a lack of testing resources, the extent of COVID-19 cases in Yemen is unknown.
The UK cuts aid
It is estimated that over 20 million (two-thirds of the population) people in Yemen rely on humanitarian aid, with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and the UK being the top three donors.
In March this year, the UK announced aid to Yemen would provide “at least” £87m ($120m) this year, down from £164m pledged last year. The move was criticised as a “death sentence” by UN chief António Guterres.
As the country is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in 100 years as well as facing famine, there have been desperate calls for a ceasefire for years, however, when this or if this will happen is unknown and the violence continues.