International (MNN) — The US State Department has stepped up their security measures against Al Qaeda terrorist threats in the Arabian Peninsula.
On Tuesday, most US embassy personnel were ordered out of Yemen by the State Department, and US citizens were urged to evacuate the country.
Around 90 embassy personnel were flown out of Yemen’s capital by the US Air Force, according to a senior US official. 20 American diplomatic posts were shut down earlier this week in light of the security alert. The UK has also pulled out some of their own staff.
Officials say this heightened threat stems from an intercepted conversation between Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Ladin’s successor. There were revealed plans to target Western authorities, according to The Independent.
A global travel alert still warns caution while traveling until the end of August.
Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global Response (BGR) says while Western citizens can pull out, the citizens and refugees in Yemen may still be vulnerable. “The wars and the conflicts and the terrorism…. In the midst of that there’s all this collateral damage; people with families and children. They don’t have any stake in the fight one way or the other, but they’re just the victims on the outside and they have to flee their homes, flee their country.”
Other impacted groups include humanitarian relief organizations. “It does affect those who are actually first responders and also those who are out on the frontlines who are helping in war-torn situations in these sensitive areas,” says Palmer.
A record 107,500 refugees arrived in Yemen in 2012, according to The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Another 46,000 arrived in the first six months of 2013. Most of them are either Ethiopian or Somali.
The situation requires aid. “While this is something the U.S. government has done, it doesn’t really stop us and relief and development organizations from trying to help people in need. It does give us pause to be a little bit more careful, but it’s proof that this is just an evil world,” says Palmer.
“That’s why we as followers of Christ have to be very active in responding to the evils and those who are called in the midst of that suffering,” Palmer says. “With BGR, it goes through partners who are like-minded out there…and they’re the ones who not only carry a package of food [as] hope or a package of healthcare items as hope, but as they go in and make contact they also carry [the Gospel] message of hope to those who are in the most desperate need.”
Please pray for the people of Yemen and especially those needing aid. Pray for safety, peace, and for the name of Christ to be proclaimed.