MENA is an English acronym referring to the Middle East and North Africa, and the #FREEMENA hashtag trending today on Twitter was started by ‘Mila’, a Yemeni teenager keen to have the world pay attention to how her people are suffering.
What is happening in Yemen?
The latest Yemen War started in 2015.
Already one of the poorest nations in the Arab world, this latest conflict has its roots in the failure of a political transition aimed at bringing stability to the country following an Arab Spring uprising.
In the uprising the authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to hand over power to his number two, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in 2011.
But as president, Mr Hadi has struggled, and a 27-year-old ‘Houthi movement’ (a.k.a. Ansar Allah), has looked to take advantage of the president’s weaknesses, as they did against the former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom they charged with corruption and criticised for being backed by Saudi and US elites, supposedly at the expense of the Yemeni people.
Their critics see the Houthis / Ansar Allah as a violent and radicalized Islamic anti-western, anti-Israeli group.
Since 2015, a Saudi and UAE-led coalition has carried out scores of offensives against the Houthis including air strikes on civilian areas and targets across Yemen.
With the United States supporting the Saudi offensives against the Houthi movement in Yemen, the war has created a humanitarian catastrophe and threatens what could turn into the largest famine in decades.
In truth, people in Yemen have been suffering, starving and dying for years.
UNICEF has said:” Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world and children are being robbed of their futures.”
“80%of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. Yemen has become a living hell for children” and “Around 2 million children under 5 years old are suffering from acute malnutrition and require treatment. The damage (to) schools and hospitals has disrupted access to education and health services for children in Yemen. “
Added to this, cholera is on the rise – a disease almost eradicated elsewhere with under 30,000 deaths each year around the world is hitting the populace hard, and is exacerbated by the fact that more than half the population have no access to clean drinking water.
As is the coronavirus according to reports from inside the country, although just 728 deaths with around 154 deaths have been reported; numbers no doubt distorted by a devastated infrastructure.
Yemen is a humanitarian disaster happening before our very eyes regardless of the political leanings of those involved.
Don’t look away.