The Time to Speak Out on Yemen is Now

8.4 Million are at risk of starvation in Yemen

By Eileen Schuhmann | Presbyterian Hunger Program

It’s been weeks since the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered in the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Turkey. There has been so much attention, and rightly so, on the details of his suspected murder given that he was an outspoken critic of the Saudi Arabian regime and its policies.

However, while the world has been focused on the heinous murder of this one man, we have mostly been willing to look the other way while 18 million out of a population of 29 million Yeminis suffer from food insecurity, and more than 8.4 million risk starvation (World Food Programme).

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia, who shares a border with Yemen, has led a bombing campaign against the Houthi Rebels who had gained power there. The Saudi coalition has blockaded the sea, air and land, making it increasingly difficult to move food and medical supplies to those that need them.

The U.S. has assisted the Saudis in Yemen with military intelligence, weapons, mid-air refueling of jets and other forms of support. The U.S. Congress has never authorized America’s involvement in the war in Yemen, yet the United States continues to fuel the conflict.

The attacks have killed more than 10,000 civilians including children on a school bus, patients in hospitals, shoppers in a market, mourners at a funeral, and family and friends attending a wedding.

But the broader harm has come with the collapse of the Yemeni economy. The price of food has increased by 35% in the past year, causing Yemen to teeter on the edge of a full-blown famine. And to complicate matters, Yemen is faced with the world’s largest cholera outbreak due to the destruction of health care, water and sanitation systems.

The pictures of the children caught up in this crisis are beyond horrible. No child should be subjected to such horrors. No mother should helplessly watch her child slowly waste away in her arms when food cannot be found.

The war in Yemen has been called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. It is a man-made crisis, one that could have been prevented and one that could end if the political will were there.

The PCUSA Stated Clerk signed on to a letter on March 14, 2018 declaring that, “We firmly believe that stability and long-term security in the Middle East will only come about when the United States and other countries move away from a militarized approach and the profits that come from perpetual conflict.”

On March 20, 2018, the U.S. Congress narrowly failed to gain the necessary votes for the bipartisan resolution S J Res 54 to end unauthorized U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

This past summer, the 223rd General Assembly of the PCUSA passed “A Resolution to Advocate for the Human Rights of All Citizens of Yemen.” The rationale for the resolution states, “To remain silent is to be complicit. We as Presbyterians must speak out. ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ (Mt. 25:40).”

On Halloween day, October 31, 2018, the U.S. government finally called for a cease fire in Yemen.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program is committed to speaking out on Yemen and this fall our Advisory Committee approved funding for an emergency food security and livelihoods support project there and in other places experiencing extreme hunger.

You can take action on Yemen by telling your Representatives to support H. Con. Res. 138 and get the U.S. out of the war in Yemen.

You can support the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s work in Yemen and other countries experiencing extreme hunger by giving online.

Knowing that we are called as partners to share Christ’s love in the world, we proclaim that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5) Let us be beacons of light and hope in the world by our fervent prayers and our engaged action.

As we support humanitarian efforts, an end to military conflict, and meet the harsh realities of this world with courage, may our actions help others to feel God’s presence working through us and Christ’s love surrounding this horrific situation.

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