A grim milestone in the “forgotten war” which has close US involvement: six years after the Saudi coalition began bombing Yemen to prevent a full Houthi rebel takeover of the country, the United Nations has issued an updated official tally of the death toll.
The UN now says an estimated 233,000 people have died as a result of the over half-decade long conflict. Most of the deaths are believed to be from ‘indirect causes’ such as collapse of societal infrastructure, disease, and lack of food and resources.
“The war had already caused an estimated 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure,” the UN’s top humanitarian office said early this week. This leaves a staggering over 100,000 direct combat deaths – likely most from aerial bombing.
Calling it an “imminent catastrophe” the UN office described that “Yemen’s complex civil war began in earnest in 2015, foisting disease, hunger and economic collapse on an already impoverished population. In 2020 the violence escalated and the hardship deepened with torrential rains, a fuel crisis, COVID-19 and desert locust infestations that are expected to cause damage and loss worth $222 million to staple crops, animals and livestock.”
“Hostilities have directly caused tens of thousands of civilian casualties; 3,153 child deaths and 5,660 children were verified in the first five years of the conflict, and 1,500 civilian casualties were reported in the first nine months of 2020,” it added of direct combat deaths in addition to indirect casualties.
The US-Saudi coalition had also for years imposed a full blockade on the country’s main ports, including the major Hodeidah, which is the country’s most important shipping port. Humanitarian goods were also blocked for years.
When during the first half of the war in Syria casualties reached over 200,000 lives lost it drove international headlines and became a key talking point for those urging military intervention to oust Assad there.
Why the hell is the US helping Saudi Arabia bomb Yemen? A brief guide. https://t.co/KVHaYEwiES
— Vox (@voxdotcom) October 14, 2016
However, given the US and UK are direct participants on executing the war in Yemen alongside the Saudis and the UAE (including US and UK advanced weaponry being used), the tragedy of Yemen has been glaringly absent from the talking points of the Western political class.