The Red Cross temporarily pulled out of Yemen’s main port Tuesday, in a sign of how drastically the months-long U.S.-backed war there has worsened.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, as the group is formally known, is one of the world’s most respected and widespread aid organizations. But after gunmen stormed its office in the city of Aden, the ICRC was forced to suspend its vital work in the country.
Yemen’s war has driven over a million civilians from their homes, and over half the country’s population lacks adequate access to food. The ICRC was among the few aid groups still operating in the country of 24 million people — which even before the war was the Arab world’s poorest.
When Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies began bombing the country in March, they declared that they would accomplish their goal of restoring ex-president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power by May. Even after declaring “victory,” the coalition has continued to indiscriminately target civilian sites and block humanitarian aid from entering the country. (RELATED: Yemen War Still Rages, Weeks And Weeks After ‘Victory’)
The U.S. has provided material and intelligence assistance to the Saudis and their allies since the war began. In recent weeks, it has doubled the number of American personnel at military operations centers in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. U.S. involvement in Yemen has been largely ignored in the light of the much more expensive and high-profile ongoing campaign against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.
Saudi Arabia and its allies first began to strike Yemen after rebel forces known as Houthis forced Hadi to flee the country. The Houthis are often alleged to have ties to Iran, though there is little substantive evidence linking the two. Meanwhile, the Arab coalition is ignoring al-Qaida’s major presence in the country. (RELATED: Al-Qaida Competes With ISIS By Subsidizing Local Police)
Besides lack of access to food, the war has disrupted millions of Yemenis’ access to electricity and clean water. Malaria, dengue fever and other contagious diseases have also broken out in the country since the war began.
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