Will Ethiopia’s Famine be Repeated in Yemen?
Famine is gripping the many warzones in the Middle East and Central Asia, with Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan the worst hit. In fact, Yemen is on the brink of the worst famine seen in the last century.
We have three months left to prevent 12 to 13 million civilians from tethering on the brink of starvation. In Afghanistan, almost three million civilians are facing starvation after a year of drought. Another eight million are malnourished.
The tragedies of the civil wars aided by global powers are many: terrorism, war, war crimes, dead children and a migration crisis. But what has been creeping in is a greater, more invisible crisis. That war destroys food security is a fact not hard to understand.
But while bombs are visible, the destruction of crops and the inability of farmers to cultivate do not make good stories – unless the situation gets to the point of no return. Now, with Yemen on the brink of mass starvation, the UN has issued another warning: act now or we face another situation the UN has issued another warning: act now or we face another situation like the Bengal famines of the last century where millions died of starvation.
The world had deluded itself into believing that a famine like the one in Ethiopia in the 1980s will not happen again. The fact is that humanitarian rhetoric is just a shield for the worst excesses of war. The famine in Ethiopia came a decade into the Ethiopian civil war.
Afghanistan is on the brink after almost two decades of civil war, Yemen after half a decade. The Yemen situation can be put down to the Saudi-led coalition, which has fought a bloody war to prevent Yemen falling into the influence of Iran. The conflict in the port of Hodeidah has led to food supplies being harder to provide.
Humanitarian aid can barely flow into Yemen, and it seems obvious that famine is being deployed as a weapon of war. In Afghanistan, the UN has warned that outside assistance is needed immediately to prevent famine. Three million people are surviving on one meal a day.
Despite low levels of aid flowing, the situation is exacerbated by the worst drought in the war-torn country in recent times. Livestock and food supplies have been affected and people are being forced to migrate.
Families have moved to living in tents close to old water channels in hope of rain, which has not arrived. With winter on the way, many individuals in dire situations like this face the cold and starvation in 20 of the country’s 34 provinces. If the world continues to look the other way, it will have effectively sent an already-vulnerable people straight to their death.