September 20, 2018 | ° F

SINGH: Yemen needs peace, support to recuperate from violence


Opinions Column: Got rights?


A lot can happen in three years. A newborn baby can develop into a toddler. A couple can find one another and get married. A student can complete their master's degree and another may graduate. A lot of growth and development occurs to a person at an individual scale, imagine what an entire country can go through in that amount of time. Last Sunday, March 25, marked the end of the third and the beginning of a fourth year since the war in Yemen began. The war started with sudden airstrikes on the 25th, and the civilians were shocked and hoped that it would pass in a couple hours, those hours turned into weeks, which turned into months, which finally turned into years. 

A year into the war, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimated that more than 2.5 million people had become internally displaced, and this number increased after the closure of Sana’a International Airport. This is the primary international airport of Yemen and the closing of it has led to an array of problems. Those that are in critical condition and disease-ridden have no way to receive treatment. And those that want to see their loved ones by either flying into or out of the state can no longer do so. The Yemen Ministry of Health said that approximately 10,000 deaths have been due to the closure. It is hard for the sick to travel by land as there are many checkpoints along the routes and the travel takes its own toll on the body. I remember reading a story about an elderly lady who passed because she was incapable of carrying her oxygen tank through the length of the journey to a clinic. Another was a story about how a man died waiting for the airport to reopen so he could fly out for treatment. These both were preventable deaths had there been great infrastructure in state.

Today approximately 2 million children are out of school due to the destruction of their buildings as well as the loss of staff lives, and more than 8 million lives are on the brink of famine. Approximately 400,000 children under the age of 5 are victims of acute malnutrition, and 22.2 million, that is 3 out of every 4 people, need more humanitarian aid.

The war has taken a massive toll on the once-beautiful country and its people. It has led to the destruction of infrastructure leaving buildings, houses and camps in rubble. It has caused starvation, leading to the high famine reports and has given rise to the spread of unchecked diseases. Even with humanitarian efforts, through groups such as UNICEF, a majority of the casualties cannot be treated as even the medical teams undergo constant attacks on their missions. There was a cholera outbreak in the last year that has recently slowed down but not before affecting more than 1 million civilians and taking the lives of more than 2,000. But to make matters worse, there was the spread of dengue fever, diphtheria and malaria within the same year. 

Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East and is undergoing the “world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis,” according to the United Nations. The state is in need of great reformation starting with the health of its civilians and the rebuilding of fundamental infrastructure for housing. Too many children have seen their parents die, too many parents have had to bury their own children, entire families have been wiped away, homes have been turned into rubble, resources have been depleted and there is a lack of morality. Over what? The fight for political control over a region. At this rate, it is only a matter of years until the whole state will be deserted and left in ashes and debris. What is the point of having control if there are no people to support it? What is the point of reigning if there are no future generations to continue the growth of the area? It saddens me to know that the war is showing no signs of stopping and mass casualties and destruction are the price of this ongoing struggle for power. This state and its people need unconditional peace, love and support to begin to recuperate from the violence and the constant loss the war has brought.

Harleen Singh is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. Her column, "Got Rights?", runs on alternate Tuesdays.

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Harleen Singh

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