One mother’s plight demonstrates the daily misery faced by millions of people in Yemen. Sadia* struggled to feed her five children after nearly four years of war which has ravaged Yemen’s economy and created the world’s biggest humanitarian disaster. Things got so bad Sadia was forced to sell her house just to put food on the table. She faced an impossible choice no parent should have to make – homelessness or hunger. Now she lives in a tent on the side of the road.
The UN says 14 million people – half of Yemen’s population – are facing the threat of starvation. Children are dying every day from preventable causes like extreme hunger and disease. With the local currency in freefall, people struggle to afford even the basics such as rice, bread and eggs.
It might seem like a far-away conflict, but Britain has a unique role to play. It is responsible for driving forward the international response to the crisis at the UN and is one of the main arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia, second only to the United States. Both Britain and the US are key allies of Saudi Arabia, which leads the coalition fighting against the Houthis in Yemen.
Recent statements by senior British and US officials, including our Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, have urged the warring parties to quickly stop the fighting and find a political solution to the conflict.
Now is the time to build on this momentum and find a peaceful resolution to the brutal conflict in Yemen – a war that’s already claimed the lives of at least 10,000 people, though that’s likely to be a gross underestimate, and has displaced more than two million. Tens of thousands of children are feared dead from extreme hunger and disease.
As the penholder on Yemen at the UN Security Council, Britain is responsible for drafting resolutions that can help chart a path to peace. Yet the UK Government needs to do more to strengthen the Council’s response and must stop arming the Saudis with weapons that could be used against civilians – including children – in Yemen.
For almost four years, Save the Children has been insisting that only a political solution will help bring an end to the daily suffering endured by millions of Yemenis. While the warring parties discuss the terms of this peace, we urge them to immediately stop the fighting so more lives aren’t lost, to allow full access for humanitarian aid and commercial imports, and to negotiate with the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in good faith and without preconditions.
It’s time to end this war, for the sake of Yemen’s children.
Sadia and her five children deserve a roof over their heads. They didn’t ask for this war, yet they suffer its consequences the most.
*name changed to protect identity