The State Department has refused to help evacuate thousands of Yemeni-Americans that remain in the chaos-torn country.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that as many as 5,000 U.S. citizens are in Yemen, where four weeks of a Saudi-led bombing campaign have withered Iranian-aligned rebels but killed hundreds of civilians along the way. (RELATED: Saudis ‘Eliminate Threat’ In Yemen, Launch Into New Military Mission)
The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, the capital, would normally be responsible for evacuating Americans from a crisis situation. It suspended operations Feb. 11. Since then, it has issued periodic messages to American citizens in Yemen, advising them on flights or ships out of the country, often to Djibouti, the capital of the nearby African country by the same name.
The last such message was issued on April 13, advising citizens to board an Indian ship in a coastal city on just hours’ notice.
Otherwise, the embassy writes, “There are no plans for a U.S. government-sponsored evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time,” so “We encourage U.S. citizens to monitor the news and seek available departure options from Yemen, via air, land, or sea.”
Despite the State Department’s apparent unwillingness to help Americans to safety, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was recently deployed to Yemen-adjacent waters. Its mission is to keep Iran from supplying weapons to the Houthis, the rebel group that has taken control of Sanaa and sent President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile in Saudi Arabia. (RELATED: US Warship Moving To Block Iranian Weapons Deliveries To Rebels In Yemen)
In response to the gap in service, a group of Arab- and Muslim-American advocacy groups have set up stuckinyemen.com in order to gather stranded Yemeni-Americans’ vital information and petition the government for an evacuation. Supporters include the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Coalition.
The scale of a proposed evacuation is not unprecedented: in 2006, the Pentagon helped the State Department remove 15,000 Americans from Lebanon during Hezbollah’s war with Israel. And in the early weeks of April, India’s government evacuated over 4,500 of its own citizens from Yemen.
As Saudi Arabia announced a cease-fire Tuesday, while continuing to drop bombs on some parts of Yemen, the U.S. embassy website posted that it had “no further information” for the thousands of U.S. citizens hoping to make it to safety.
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