Alwaght- Stomachs in Yemen are grumbling; for food, for peace, and for freedom. One year after the Saudi-led aggression by the Arab world’s richest states started bombing Yemen, the Arab world’s most impoverished nation, the Yemeni people are still suffering.
They have been through a lot; from death to starvation to destruction, and yet their resolve to snap the cords of manipulation that had been extended from Riyadh to Sana’a, has not subsided.The hunger is real.
Today, there are more than 14 million people hungry as a result of a Saudi-imposed food shortage. A new report from Oxfam has estimated that more than 80 percent of the country is in “dire need” of humanitarian assistance. Yemen is indeed starving.
Oxfam has said that millions of Yemenis are at risk of being pushed into famine. This is partly but seriously due to a banking crisis that followed the war and which has been exacerbated by the destruction of farms and markets, and shelling that has cut off main supply routes.
“A brutal conflict on top of an existing crisis, a catastrophe on top of catastrophe, has created one of the biggest humanitarian emergencies in the world today—yet most people are unaware of it,” Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, Oxfam’s country director in Yemen, said in a statement. “Men, women and children are caught between reckless bombing from the sky and indiscriminate shelling on the ground, with nowhere to hide.”
More than 14 million people in Yemen, which has a population of 24 million, “are hungry and the majority will not be able to withstand the rising prices for food if importers are unable to trade due to a crippled financial system,” Oxfam declared.
“For a country that imports 90 percent of its food, this could result in price hikes hitting a quarter of the population, already on the edge of starvation,” said Oxfam in a statement.
Yet, Yemenis are not only hungry for food. They are also fed up with Saudi bullying.
On Saturday, the massive turnout at a demonstration marking the first anniversary of the Saudi war on Yemen translated verbal support into the biggest gathering since the 2011 mass protests. The rally aimed to voice opposition to the Saudi regime that is continuing its attacks against the people of Yemen unabatedly. A sea of demonstrators flooded the streets of the capital. Western and Gulf media were unable to entirely cover up the event so they tried to restrict the purpose of the rally to anti-Saudi sentiments to avoid showing that the Houthi Ansarullah movement enjoys support within the country. One year on, the Yemeni people showed the world that they are hungry for freedom from Saudi hegemony.
They also expressed their need for peace. After all, they have been battered, killed, and starved under the Saudi-launched aggression.
“We extend a hand of peace, the peace of the brave, for the direct talks with the Saudi regime without a return to the (UN) Security Council, which is incapable of resolving anything,” former President Ali Abdallah Saleh, who was forced to resign in 2011 but whose loyalists have been fighting against the Saudi-led forces, told the crowd.
On March 26, 2015, Riyadh’s forces carried out the first airstrike against Yemen. The aim was clear: to prevent the Ansarullah movement from securing key areas in the country, and maintain its grip on the government in its backyard. In the process—which has so far failed to achieve these goals —more than 6,100 have been killed, according to Oxfam. Other sources have set an even higher number. In one year, at least 2.4 million people have been displaced and 82 percent of the population are in need humanitarian aid. In light of this and past grievances, it is clear that Yemen’s hunger is real but it is not only a hunger that can be satiated with food and water. It is also a hunger that demands the right to peace and sovereignty.