The United Nations and several aid organizations have expressed concern over deteriorating conditions in Yemen. Fighting there has led to the displacement of tens of thousands of people, and the number of civilian casualties is rising. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, has noted that violence has disrupted water supplies, strained hospitals, and led to the danger of an outbreak of disease in urban centers.
The violence in the region’s poorest country has escalated in recent weeks after Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, took over large swaths of territory and forced the elected president, Abed Mansour Hadi, to flee Yemen. At the request of President Hadi, Saudi Arabia, which shares a long border with Yemen, is conducting airstrikes against rebel positions. The Saudi-led initiative has the backing of the majority of countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council. The United States is also supporting the Saudi-led operation with logistical and intelligence support. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the U.S. “is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized” and “we’re not going to step away from our alliances and our friendships and the need to stand with those who feel threatened.”
But the U.S. is concerned with the violence and chaos that is endangering innocent Yemeni people and calls on all sides in the conflict to take every feasible precaution to minimize harm to civilians.
The increasing suffering of the Yemeni people highlights the pressing need for all Yemeni parties to return to a UN-led negotiation to resolve Yemen’s crisis. As U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan has said, “The international community has spoken clearly through the UN Security Council and in other fora that the violent takeover of Yemen by an armed faction is unacceptable and that a legitimate political transition – long sought by the Yemeni people – can be accomplished only through political negotiations and a consensus agreement among all of the parties.”