Saudi Attacks in Yemen ‘world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster’
An airstrike in Yemen Sunday reportedly killed 33 people attending a wedding in a rebel-held village in the Bani Qais district, including the bride. Over 40 others were wounded.
A local hospital confirmed most of the dead were women and children.
Houthi rebels blamed the attack on Saudi forces, which intervened in the war in support of Yemen’s government in March 2015. Despite claims that it never intentionally targets civilians, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly been blamed for bombing residential areas and critical infrastructure such as hospitals and schools.
The civil war in Yemen is being fought between Houthi forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and forces loyal to current President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Hadi served as Vice President to Saleh before succeeding him in a 2012 election in which he was the only candidate. When Hadi refused to step down at the end of his term, the Houthis stormed into the presidential palace and placed him under house arrest.
Hadi escaped, denounced the Houthis, and fled to Riyadh. Saleh was shot and killed last December while trying to flee the capital Sana’a.
Fearing the Houthis were backed by rival Iran, Saudi Arabia in March 2015 teamed up with eight other states to launch a deadly bombing campaign in an attempt to restore Hadi’s government. Since then, more than 6,000 civilians have died and more than 9,000 have been injured. The UN blames Saudi airstrikes for over 60% of civilian deaths.
The war has also created a food security emergency and enabled ISIS and al-Qaeda to capture territory in southern Yemen. The conditions created by the chaos have facilitated outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria.
The UN is calling it the “world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster.”
An estimated 22 million people are in need of humanitarian aid and 11 million require immediate assistance just to survive. A least 16 million lack basic healthcare. More than 8 million are at risk of starvation. The disaster has disproportionately affected babies and children. Last November, Save the Children reported that 130 kids were dying each day.
Despite all of this, Washington remains a key ally of Saudi Arabia.