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Consider giving what you are able to help Yemen

Guest Column
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

In the midst of making those last-minute political donations, perhaps you could consider donating money to an international cause …. or at least put this column aside for a little later when your budget may have recovered from the political season. What I’m talking about here is Yemen, which has suffered under the U.S.-aided Saudi coalition battling and has been called by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and others the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.

Some facts:

  • Nearly 2 million children are suffering from acute malnutrition, says UNICEF and 1 million people have been stricken by cholera due to lack of clean drinking water. Cholera so far has claimed 2,000 lives.
  • According to the United Nations, more than 10,000 civilians had been killed by the end of 2017 and 40,000 wounded since the Saudi coalition battles began.
  • Because of border closings and restrictions, some 22 million are in acute need of humanitarian aid—75 percent of the country’s population--and 8.4 million are a step away from famine, according to the U.N.
  • Doctors Without Borders withdrew from the country after the ceaseless bombardment of hospitals that was putting the medical personnel at risk but which further complicates Yemen’s tragedy.
  • Because families are desperate for money and eager to decrease the number of mouths to feed in the households, female children are marrying younger. About 44 percent are now married before age 15, according to UNICEF, and some girls as young as 9 are getting married, often in exchange for dowries that help feed the rest of the family. A spokesperson for Save the Children in Yemen told CNN “Food prices have soared by up to 200 percent and the cost of living has increased by at least a third, so many daughters have been given away by families who wouldn’t have dreamed of doing that before.”
  • More than 8 million people in the country do not know where their next meal will come from, and “every 10 minutes, a child under 5 dies of preventable causes,” according to the U.N.’s Guterres.

The BBC reports the conflict has its roots in the failure of a political transition that was supposed to bring stability to Yemen following an Arab Spring uprising that forced its longtime authoritarian president to hand over power to his deputy in 2011. Civil war erupted, with Saudi Arabia supporting one side of this conflict aided by U.S. military weapons, which the U.S. military companies are happy to sell to the Saudis and which President Donald Trump says would be supplied by Russia or China if we refused. Iran backs the other side in this sad dispute over a country that by now has little business, no agriculture, few schools and almost non-existent healthcare.

An estimated 2 million children are out of school in Yemen in large part because the bombardments have left 1,600 schools totally or partially destroyed. And while the young schoolgirls are essentially being sold into marriage, the fear, according to a CNN report, is that boys can be led to join the battles as child soldiers.

We can write to our Members of Congress about the continued supply of arms to the Saudis as they continue to bomb civilians. We can call for strong sanctions regarding the murder of Washington Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudis, assuming this is the case and it appears to be so. And we can contribute to the following relief agencies for immediate help in Yemen’s “forgotten war:”

  • International Rescue Committee, Inc, the IRC helps people whose lives are shattered by conflict survive, recover and find ways to rebuild for the future. 
  • Oxfam, Oxfam’s mission is to tackle the root causes of poverty and create lasting solutions. 
  • UNICEF, UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund and provides humanitarian aid and developmental assistance to mothers and children around the world.

I don’t think it matters how much you give, but if everyone reading this or similar columns or posts on Facebook gave just $5 it would make a big difference. At times when I feel that things are beyond control, these little gestures help me feel at least a little better. How about you?

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Kate McCarty is a resident of San Marcos