Background

Yemen has been experiencing a devastating war for over three years, as a coalition of neighboring countries, led by Saudi Arabia, has launched a large-scale military assault and blockade aiming to reverse the 2015 toppling of President Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi by Houthi rebels. The war’s many consequences have devastated the people of Yemen.

Yemen today suffers what the U.N. calls “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” Some 22 million people (three-quarters of the population) are estimated to be in need of aid and protection, 18 million of whom are food insecure. Millions lack access to safe drinking water, and more than a million have been infected with serious water-borne diseases. Half of Yemen’s children between the ages of six months and five years are acutely malnourished. A Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes. These horrific statistics come on top of the deadly violence Yemeni civilians are continuously subjected to in the current war.

The Problem

Strategic regional concerns, as well as preoccupation with other regional crises, have relegated Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe to the bottom of the priority list for the United States and for many in the region. Both sides in the conflict are responsible for serious human rights violations, as well as restricting humanitarian aid from reaching those in dire need. But easing the pressure imposed by the Saudi-led coalition remains the primary key to alleviating the humanitarian disaster currently engulfing the country. A resolution in Congress seeking to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen was defeated after the White House lobbied against it, warning that a withdrawal in U.S. support would embolden Iran to step up its backing of the Houthis. Everyone seems to agree the situation in Yemen is disastrous, but are too invested in a particular outcome to back down and allow Yemenis to ease their predicament. That calculus must change.

Many see the conflict through a regional proxy lens as a battle for influence over Yemen between Iran and Saudi Arabia. But no matter where people stand politically, there can be no denying that the war in Yemen has caused unimaginable human suffering.

Key Recommendations

The Trump Administration and Congress should end U.S. support for any military action in Yemen, and do everything in their power to end the war. U.S. efforts must pressure the parties to pursue negotiations to advocate for their interests without punishing the Yemeni civilian population.

No amount of aid can resolve the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. But in the current absence of political will to decisively end the conflict, the U.S. should mitigate the crisis by leading an international effort to deliver critical medical and humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemeni citizens residing in the U.S. should continue to be extended until Yemen becomes safe again for their return.


Download Issue Brief Here: Yemen (2018)