Yemen has been suffering since the beginning of the revolution that started more than four months ago. Protesters have been shot at constantly by security forces, the Republican Guards and by Saleh’s militia dressed in civilian clothes. One massacre after another were committed with scores of deaths and injuries. On Friday March 18th, 57 people were killed in Change Square in Sana’a after Friday prayers and on May 29th, 52 were killed in Taiz when the Republican Guards attacked Freedom Square just before dawn and burnt the sit-in tents to the ground. According to human rights groups and medics, more than 350 people have been killed in the government crackdown since the revolution started.
Three cities in Abyan province have fallen to militants, as Saleh had constantly threatened, or perhaps one should say “promised”. Militants launched surprise attacks on the cities, seizing entire neighbourhoods with “minimal resistance” and have been engaging in gunfights with government forces ever since. More than 200 people have been killed in the ongoing clashes, but medical officials at Razi Hospital in Abyan said that half of the dead were civilians. Ali Hashem, a medic at Razi Hospital, said “The government is killing residents and then they announce they killed militants. Most of those admitted to the hospital were not fighters. Besides that Abyan has been subject to US drone attacks, shelling, the destruction of houses and killing more people as part of US’s never ending war on al Qaeda, all of which forced more than 30,000 inhabitants to flee to schools in Aden creating a refugee crisis situation. While Libya and Syria have refugees across their borders, Yemen’s refugees are within its own borders. This month, according to the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) 100,000 estimated Yemenis were displaced from Abyan.
In mid-March tribesmen are said to have blown up a major oil pipeline feeding crude to Yemen’s main oil refinery in the southern city of Aden, causing severe fuel shortages, straining electricity output and reducing water supplies. Government officials said the pipeline bombing had also disrupted the export of some 120,000 barrels of oil per day from the country’s central Mareb province, a key source of foreign currency. They estimated around $1 billion has been lost in the three months since the blast. Yemen loses around $10 million a day due to the production and export stoppage since mid-March.
Cities in Yemen, as well as the capital Sanaa, have been suffering from difficult living conditions, due to constant and long hours of power outage, fuel crisis and shortage of water and food. Up to 15 death cases were reported in Hodeida last week in hospitals due to the electricity cuts, including 4 infants in incubators and 7 dialysis patients. It is affecting the water supply which in turn affected farming, exports, production and the economy as a whole. Power outage also affected students who are trying to study for their final exams amidst all this chaos and have only candle light to help them. The fuel crisis has been paralyzing movement in the cities, ambulances from reaching patients, amongst other things, while queues for refueling have been up to 3 kilometres long and a waiting period extending to 10-15 hours sometimes days. This video shows the length of a queue in the capital Sanaa.
Gian Carlo Cirri of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) says that “Yemen is undergoing its worst humanitarian crisis ever.” Cirri, who directs WFP’s Yemen mission, says “I cannot recall a time when hardship has been greater in recent Yemeni history.” WFP reports there has been “a 39 percent increase in the price of wheat over just five months. Food prices are skyrocketing in Yemen.”
What is happening in Yemen is a humanitarian crisis on multiple levels and the world seems to be focusing on the 200-300 Qaeda militants in Yemen and ignoring the misery of the millions of people who are suffering. An entire nation is paying a hefty price just because it demanded change and aspired for democracy.
This was originally posted on Noon’s blog
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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