U.S.-Backed Assault on Yemen Forces Red Cross to Evacuate

The U.S. shouldn’t be supporting Saudi Arabia’s war crimes in Yemen, a place that due to military assaults has become a nightmare for many of those living there.

In a development revealing just how dire the situation is for Yemeni civilians and threatening to compound the catastrophe, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday announced it is pulling 71 of its staffers out of Yemen—a move the organization admits will cripple its humanitarian efforts.

In response, Amnesty International said it marked a “bleak” new low in the ongoing conflict.

In a statement released Thursday, the ICRC cited “a series of incidents and threats,” including a gunman killing one of its staff members in April. Security for its staff, the group said, is “a non-negotiable prerequisite.”

ICRC director of operations Dominik Stillhart said the group’s activities, including surgical services, clean water initiatives, and food assistance, “have been blocked, threatened, and directly targeted in recent weeks, and we see a vigorous attempt to instrumentalize our organization as a pawn in the conflict.”

Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said such targeting “is a violation of international humanitarian law. In fact, deliberate attacks on humanitarian relief personnel amount to war crimes.”

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The U. N. estimates that over 6,400 civilians have already been killed and more than 10,000 have been injured since the conflict in the impoverished country broke out in 2015. The U.S. has played a key role in fueling the conflict through its backing of the Saudi-led coalition, and recent reporting indicates that role could deepen.

Legislative efforts to stop the U.S.-backed carnage, however, have thus far failed.

Bill Would Remove U.S. Forces from Yemen

The U.S. military is guilty of war crimes in Yemen through the damage it has done to civilian life there. U.S. military involvement in the Yemen war was a factor in Yemen now facing a humanitarian crisis that is causing immense suffering there.

And in any case, history reveals that empires tend to collapse internally after being unable to sustain their military spending. The U.S. is using a considerable portion of its resources to bomb multiple countries overseas while much of its own domestic infrastructure is in a ghastly, crumbling state.

As the Trump administration continues to expand the U.S. military’s role in fueling the Saudi-led coalition’s deadly assault on Yemen—which has killed at least 10,000 civilians and sparked “the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis“—a coalition of senators led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a bipartisan joint resolution on Wednesday that calls for the removal of American armed forces from the country.

“The bill will force the first-ever vote in the Senate to withdraw U.S. armed forces from an unauthorized war,” Sanders, who will be joined by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in introducing the resolution, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The U.S. has been heavily supporting Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen for years, supplying the kingdom with weaponry and military intelligence. Last August, the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that American troops are on the ground in Yemen.

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“By continuing to blindly back Saudi Arabia’s starvation campaign, on top of fueling Yemen’s suffering, the U.S. is creating more enemies and fueling the very extremism the War on Terror is supposed to be eradicating,” said Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy at Peace Action, in a statement on Wednesday. “Congress knows this, but Saudi Arabia’s legions of lobbyists on Capitol Hill have convinced some members of Congress to bury their heads in the sand.”

Yemen Crisis Threatens Many Thousands

Among the worst atrocities of the past few years is what has happened to Yemen, but because the U.S., UK, and Saudi governments are primarily responsible for that country’s crisis, it hasn’t received adequate attention. Yemen could experience the largest famine in decades, with millions of potential victims.

The U.S. shouldn’t be bombing Yemen and it sure as hell shouldn’t be supporting Saudi Arabia bombing Yemen either. It’s much better to be a humanitarian superpower rather than a militaristic one.

Untold thousands of innocent people will die in Yemen unless the Saudi-led military coalition unconditionally lifts it blockade of the country’s ports, the heads of three UN agencies have warned.

In a powerful joint statement the heads of the World Food Programme, Unicef and the World Health Organisation said the cost of the blockade was “being measured in the number of lives that are lost”.

Supplies including medicines, vaccines and food are waiting to enter the country, the agencies said. “Without them, untold thousands of innocent victims, among them many children, will die.”

The plea follows a strongly worded statement released late on Wednesday by the UK Foreign Office that called on all parties to “ensure immediate access for commercial and humanitarian supplies to avert the threat of starvation and disease faced by millions of citizens”.

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More than two years of conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels have devastated Yemen, which is beset by famine and cholera.

Even with the partial lifting of the blockade, the World Food Programme estimates that an additional 3.2 million people will be pushed into hunger. If left untreated, 150,000 malnourished children could die within the coming months.

“To deprive this many from the basic means of survival is an unconscionable act and a violation of humanitarian principles and law,” the joint UN statement said.

On Wednesday Save the Children said an estimated 130 Yemeni children or more died every day from extreme hunger and disease, and that the continuing blockade was likely to increase the death rate. More than 50,000 children are believed to have died in Yemen so far in 2017, the international aid group said.

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Shane Stevenson, Oxfam’s country director in Yemen, said: “If those with the power to act fail to do so, history will judge these countries as either responsible or complicit in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of people in Yemen. They need to immediately open borders, and allow the free flow of vital aid and help secure a ceasefire.”