In the Dar al-Islam: Yemen course with Gary Scudder, our assignment was a 10 week, weekly assignment. We were to create 5 tweets relating to Yemen and write a 250 to 350 word reflection and commentary on the tweets and relate them to topics from the course. The following is one of the weekly submissions along with an additional reflection, now that I have learned more from the class and, later tweets and commentaries.
Initial Reflection and Commentary
This week in my tweets on of the topics I had touched upon was the fact that a bigger killer than the actual violence of the was the fact that the fighting has starved out many of the people in Yemen. “In the last two years, more children have died from preventable diseases than those killed in the violence” because the necessary medical supplies and food to keep these people alive cannot not get past the fighting taking place (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56320#.WMIld_nyvIV). The lack of food makes them hungry and their immune systems to weak to fight disease and the lack of medical supplies means that it is impossible to treat the diseases that arise. UNICEF is trying across multiple campaigns to reach as many children as possible to vaccinate them , having reached over five million children under the age of five and giving them the polio vaccine. They plan to scale up to reach 323 thousand children to treat the severe acute malnutrition that they are facing.
While the efforts to treat disease and malnutrition are obviously a good thing, they are fighting the symptoms of a bigger disease in Yemen that is causing it. The war in Yemen is making it a struggle for people to survive, even if the actual combat doesn’t reach them. Until the war is brought to an end and fighting stops interfering, humanitarian aid is going to face many problems in trying to help the people of Yemen.
One of the big themes that many of my reflections have is a focus around the Yemen Civil war between the Houthis rebels and a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. Many of the reflections talk about the deaths caused by the fighting, or the US involvement in the fighting.
This week I had still talking about the conflict and fighting but I had taken a new perspective of the fighting and where the real damage and devastation that Yemen faces because of the civil war. Intuitively one might believe that the biggest loss of life would be from people killed by fighting, or possibly bombs and airstrikes from drones. But those both are not the biggest contributors, it is actually the lack of food and medicine , which the fighting causes as it blocks aid from getting to those who need it.
Yemen was already facing issues with disease and hunger even before and the war has only exacerbated this problem. While many don’t see this perspective normally, it is not wholly ignored. As the semester progress I saw many organizations and the UN urge for a peaceful solution to the fighting, as millions of people in Yemen are less than a couple of months away from starvation. These organizations have made major attempts to get aid out to those who need it, with many successes, but as I said and still say, these are just symptoms of the larger issue of the civil war.
Unfortunately for the people living in Yemen, the fighting has not come to an end, and as the US gets more involved in the conflict and plans to deploy more soldiers to fight, peace is not likely to come soon.
My reflection touched on a deeper issue that Yemen is facing and that many people who are trying to come up with a solution are seeing and actively pushing for in order to help the people living in Yemen. At this point later in the course, I think that this reflection holds up and remains relevant and accurate as the conflict and humanitarian crisis worsens in Yemen.