Yemen (MNN) – Renewed fighting in Yemen is drawing attention to one of the more underreported humanitarian crises in the world.
Headlines go back and forth over the latest side to control the seaports of Aden and Hodeidah. Daniel Hoffman of Middle East Concern explains, in simple terms, the conflict that’s tearing this small country apart.
Making sense of the senseless
First, “The current broader war started in 2015, when the Houthis, a Shia, armed, religious, political group took over much of the country from the interim government at that time.” The Saudi (Sunni) intervened and led a coalition supporting the internationally recognized government to defeat the Houthis.
It didn’t stop there.
The newest fighting is within the forces fighting against the Houthis—which would, in theory, support the internationally recognized government. However, notes Hoffman, “Forces loyal to the interim president, and the forces of the Southern Transitional Council are fighting each other. They are both supported by different international backers of the international coalition that is supposed to fight the Houthis and not each other.”
Add in another layer of proxy wars between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the illusion of peace throughout the Middle East threatens to disappear.
Dual scourge strikes Yemen
Meanwhile, a cholera outbreak coupled with a near-famine food shortage threatens to finish off what the war does not. “The United Nations has declared Yemen as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” says Hoffman. “Tens of thousands of civilians have died. Well over three million have been displaced. More than 24 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, and about half of those are under imminent threat of famine.”
The World Peace Foundation says the crises are manmade. Their latest report notes that “The belligerents have conducted the war with good knowledge of how their actions will cause mass starvation.”
Humanitarian efforts, while underway, are stymied at the delivery level. Says Hoffman, “Most of the ports of airports and seaports have been closed. It’s very difficult to bring in humanitarian supplies, including medical supplies, but also foods. And the internal economy has completely collapsed, including agriculture, and things like that. So the situation humanitarian situation is very dire.”
Raging inflation changes the prices on what goods can be found, sometimes on an hourly basis, complicating purchase efforts.
Hope for the hopeless
There are some who make a difference. “In many dark places in the world, in terms of suffering and humanitarian crisis and war and other things, the Body of Christ is doing what it can to be salt and light in the situation, and to provide practical assistance to people as well.”
Although non-specific because of security issues, Hoffman adds that followers of Christ are a source of hope for people who have lost all hope after years of conflict and suffering. “I know they would greatly appreciate our prayers that they will continue to be salt and light, and share the love of Christ, both practically and otherwise, with those around them.”
Ask God to work in the hearts of leaders toward a lasting peace.
(Headline screen capture courtesy Prayercast)