In the depths of Yemen’s darkness, a glimmer of hope

A Saudi-led coalition strike destroyed a former school and its sources. (Image source: Felton Davis/Flickr Creative Commons.)
A Saudi-led coalition strike destroyed a former school and its sources. (Image source: Felton Davis/Flickr Creative Commons.)

Yemen has been at war with itself and with an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia since 2015.

The death toll is staggering, the loss of culture and heritage an ongoing tragedy.

Is hope just around the corner?

By the numbers

A new database provided by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project puts hard numbers to Yemen’s struggle.

It isn’t pretty.

The toll has passed 100,000, and includes 12,000 civilians, many killed by attacks that directly targeted them.

These casualties only tell part of the story of Yemen’s suffering, which the United Nations describes as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” 

The country is plagued by disease, famine, lack of medicine, and, as previously covered in The Daylighter, the loss of historical and cultural heritage.

Suffer the little children

According to UNICEF, Yemen is “one of the worst places in the world to be a child.” 

Thousands of Yemeni children have died from errant bombs, disease, and famine, while 12 million more are at risk. 

Thousands of boys are now child soldiers, having taken up arms for the combatant groups.

While there are other groups involved in the war, the main stand-off is between the Houthi separatists and a foreign coalition led by Saudi Arabia. 

Just as the Houthis do not recognize the Saudi coalition’s support for Yemen’s ousted President Hadi, who is in exile in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis and their allies, including Western countries, see the hand of Iran in the Houthis’ actions.

These factions continue to battle each other, and missiles — many bought from Western countries, and employed by both the Saudi coalition and the Houthis — continue to rain down.

While there appears to be no end in sight, there is also no end to hopes that various local ceasefire agreements and limited peace accords will bear fruit.

Unexpected peacemaker

There’s also an emerging promise of peace in Yemen coming from an unexpected quarter. 

Sudan’s new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, speaking in the United States in the first visit by a Sudanese leader in almost 35 years, is advocating a peaceful solution — and is prepared to act unilaterally to help make it happen.

Hamdok’s main means to ending the fighting is the withdrawal of thousands of Sudanese troops from participating in the Saudi coalition.

Already recognized as a peacemaker for rapid efforts to end conflicts in his own country, Hamdok said of Yemen, “This is a legacy we inherited. I think a conflict [there] has no military solution —whether from us or anywhere in the world … It can only be resolved through political means.”

Sources: The Guardian (plus more reporting), ACLED, UNICEF, Al Jazeera (plus more reporting), Asia News, Atlantic Council

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