Yemen’s civil war may be far away, but the American people can still do something to stop it. We can save millions of Yemenis who are starving because of fighting by a Saudi Arabia led coalition against Houthi rebels.
We must speak out against the conflict by encouraging Congress to pass the Yemen War Powers Resolution. This resolution would end U.S. support of the Saudi coalition.
The Trump administration is providing targeting and logistical assistance for the Saudi coalition, which has prolonged the conflict. Saudi airstrikes, which have killed Yemeni civilians, have been helped by the U.S military aid.
The resolution would reject any more military involvement. Our role in Yemen must be as a peacemaker and humanitarian only. The resolution passed the Senate last year but did not come up for a vote in the House. It is now being reintroduced in the Senate and House to try again.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) says, “I am optimistic that Congress will once again sound the alarm over the atrocities committed in Yemen and end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition that is killing thousands of civilians, blocking humanitarian aid, and arming radical militias.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) adds, “The Founders specifically gave Congress — the branch closest to the people — the power to declare war. Yet we’ve been participating in war actions in the Yemeni Civil War since 2015 without the go-ahead from Congress. It was unconstitutional then, and it’s unconstitutional now. “
Murphy, Lee and the other co-sponsors believe passing the resolution will encourage peace negotiations between the Saudi coalition and the Houthis. It would send a clear signal to the combatants the U.S. will no longer support the war in Yemen. The House and Senate can each send a powerful message of hope to Yemen.
President Trump must support the resolution and not veto it. Trump has to recognize the humanitarian disaster the war has caused.
Time is running out. There are 15.9 million Yemenis on the brink of famine because of food shortages caused by the war and military blockades. The UN World Food Program and relief partners need safe access to all civilians. Children are suffering the most.
“We’ve heard stories of children freezing in the cold winter months because they lack adequate shelter and families can’t afford the fuel needed to light a fire,” says Tamer Kirolos of Save the Children in Yemen.
Save the Children estimates that 85,000 Yemeni children have died from extreme hunger and disease since the war began in 2015. Every day that passes in war-torn Yemen means more children succumbing to deadly malnutrition. This must stop.
The fighting has been most intense in the Hodeidah governorate, which has the key port for bringing in food and other supplies. A recent ceasefire has failed to produce enough results. Carolyn Miles, president of Save the Children, says the “Hodeidah port is still not operating at the levels needed to address the urgent humanitarian needs of millions of Yemenis.”
Miles warns “That translates to children dying from entirely preventable causes because vital food and medicine just aren’t getting into the country. We have seen little evidence that anything has changed for the people of Yemen, especially children, who continue to suffer.”
Americans must raise their collective voice against the war. Every citizen can ask their representative in Congress to support The Yemen War Powers Resolution and end U.S. involvement in the conflict. We should be encouraging a peace treaty ending the war.
Every citizen can tell Congress to support hunger relief for Yemen through our Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole programs. Our aid programs must be fully funded in order to help Yemen with life-saving food.
You can send a clear message supporting peace and food for Yemen. Your actions can save Yemeni children from starvation.
William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program and Catholic Relief Services on the book “Ending World Hunger.”