Yemen is in the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe. Over two years of fighting between Houthi rebels and government forces of elected President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, along with airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led Gulf States coalition in support of President Hadi’s troops, have devastated the civilian population and destroyed the country’s economy.
As is common in war, it is the civilian population that suffers the most. Armed militias have staged attacks on residential neighborhoods and on civilian infrastructure. Children have been pressed into service as soldiers, and there have been reports of detentions of civilians, of targeted killings, and of forced evictions of civilians by the warring parties. The United States has called on all parties to the conflict to take every possible measure to avoid civilian casualties, and to investigate those incidents when they occur.
The United Nations reports that since the conflict escalated in March 2015, over 7,270 people, most of them civilians, have been killed and another 38,280 others have been injured. Out of a population of 27 million people, some 3.3 million have been displaced from their homes and two thirds of these remain homeless. Another 180,000 have left the country. Seventy percent of the population, nearly 19 million people, is in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
There is only one way to ease the suffering of the people of Yemen, and that is to bring the war to an end by following the plan put forward by the United Nations.
As Secretary Kerry said recently in Riyadh, Ending the bloodshed is top priority, so establishing a ceasefire is critical. “I know that the decisions that are required to try to bring any war to an end and create peace are very difficult, but the costs of war make delay inexcusable,” he said.
“The parties need to do what they can to make progress, and for our part, the United States will remain diplomatically engaged along with our international partners and particularly with Saudi Arabia and with the UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.”