Red Sea Escalation Risks Deepening Yemen's Humanitarian Crisis

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-01-17 02:32 PM UTC
Red Sea Escalation Risks Deepening Yemen's Humanitarian Crisis



The exchange of attacks between the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group and the U.S. forces has paved the way for a new turbulent phase in Yemen, putting millions of Yemenis who rely on humanitarian aid at risk.

Dozens of U.S. and U.K. strikes have hit Yemen's Houthi sites in Yemen over the past few days, raising the concern of humanitarian organizations and millions of Yemenis.

On Tuesday, 26 humanitarian organizations called on the parties to the conflict to utilize diplomacy instead of war to de-escalate the situation. A joint statement said, "The humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains one of the largest in the world and escalation will only worsen the situation for vulnerable civilians and hinder the ability of aid organizations to deliver critical services."

The aid groups urged all actors to prioritize diplomatic channels over military options to safeguard the progress of peace efforts in Yemen.

Signed by over 20 aid organizations, including CARE, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children, the statement said, "The impact of the security threat in the Red Sea is already being felt by humanitarian actors as disruption to trade is pushing up prices and causing delays in shipments of lifesaving goods."

Over the past years, the UN has been referring to Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with over two-thirds of the population in need of aid. However, the UN-sponsored truce, which took effect in April 2022, provided massive relief to millions of Yemenis after seven years of civil war.

As the U.S.-Houthi conflict is escalating, a fresh humanitarian crisis is looming in Yemen. The hostilities will force aid organizations to halt their operations in areas where the operation of aid providers is not safe.

The Houthi group vows that their operations in the Red Sea will continue as long as the Israeli war on Gaza continues. They say their support for Palestine is a "humanitarian, moral and religious duty."

 The group's firm stance has invited a U.S. response, which could aggravate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

In addition to the strikes it has recently conducted, the United States, beginning in mid-February, will consider the Houthis a "specially designated global terrorist" group, a U.S. official told the New York Times on Wednesday. This will mean blocking the Houthi access to the global financial system, besides other sanctions.

On January 12, President Joe Biden was asked by reporters whether the Houthis were a terrorist group. He replied, "I think they are."

However, Biden officials avoid using the severe designation "foreign terrorist organization" because the mild designation aims to keep the flow of desperately needed humanitarian aid to Yemen.