UN Races to Negotiate a Ceasefire to Avoid Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen
Al Hudaydah, a major Yemeni port city through which Yemen receives between 70-80 percent of its humanitarian aid, is in danger of attacks led by United Arab Emirate (UAE) forces. Fears of these attacks grew after the UAE issued a warning stating that the UN and any other allies in the region have three days to evacuate despite growing pressure to reach a ceasefire agreement. On Friday, June 8, the UN released a public statement saying that in a worst-case scenario, at least 250,000 civilians could be killed. In addition, because the Red Sea port in Hudaydah supplies the majority of aid to Yemen, an attack on the port would endanger the delivery and reception of these supplies to the already famine-struck country.
The threat of an imminent attack alone is hindering humanitarian aid to the region as many life-saving aid organizations do not feel they have a secure means of delivering supplies and resources. Likewise, the United States is hesitant to step in, as it wants to avoid severing ties with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, as stopping Houthi rebel forces is of significant interest to Riyadh. The port is also believed to be a point through which Houthi forces have smuggled weapons through to use against Saudi Arabia.
However, despite the United States’ hesitancy to push the issue, various senators such as Jeanne Shaheen (Dem.) and Todd Young (Rep.) have acknowledged the gravity of these attacks if they were to be carried out, and have urged the US government to “use its influence to persuade Saudi Arabia and the [UAE] to peruse an urgent diplomatic solution to end the civil war,” stating that attacks on Al Hudaydah and its port would have devastating humanitarian and environmental consequences. Others argue that such an attack would eliminate any possibility of achieving peace in the region in the near future.
As of now, it is reported that only half of health facilities in Yemen are fully functional, with approximately 10 million people in need of basic medical care. Combined with recent and repeating cholera outbreaks as well as unrest and civil war, Yemen is considered to be the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Hudaydah is the main hub of which millions of people are completely reliant upon for food, medical resources, and other assistance. To attack and destroy a city and port of such great significance to a country already in crisis would likely be seen as a critical violation of human rights.
By Emily Fowler