Robert Naiman / Just Foreign Policy & Al Jazeera America & Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2015-05-09 00:01:04
ACTION ALERT: Stop the Violence in Yemen
Robert Naiman / Just Foreign Policy
TEHRAN (May 7, 2015) — Iâ€™m writing to you from Tehran — my first time in Iran. Iâ€™m here together with Tighe Barry of CodePink, participating in a “peace boat” protesting the US-backed Saudi bombing and blockade of Yemen. For updates on our journey, follow @justfp on Twitter.
Can you help amplify our voices? We set up a petition at MoveOn, echoing Oxfamâ€™s call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Yemen and to ensure access to essential food, fuel and medical supplies by re-opening air and sea routes. You can sign and share our petition here.
Escalating conflict in Yemen is making a dire humanitarian situation worse. We must do all we can to push for a permanent and immediate ceasefire.
Before the current conflict, Yemen was already the poorest country in the Middle East. Over 10 million people were going hungry, including 1 million acutely malnourished children. This number has increased by nearly 2 million since the conflict began.
There was a moment of hope when an announcement came that airstrikes would stop but they have since resumed. Violence has damaged homes, schools and even hospitals. Over 400 civilians have lost their lives and over 150,000 people have been displaced.
Food and diesel, which is needed to pump clean water, are increasingly in short supply and their prices are rising — putting these basic necessities out of reach for ordinary families. And at a time when people desperately need them, vital supplies can’t enter the country. That could prove disastrous, because Yemen relies on imports for 90 per cent of its food.
Escalating violence is making an already dire humanitarian situation much worse. The conflict must stop.
It is critical that the US government pushes for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, so that vital humanitarian assistance can be delivered to people in Yemen. We must do all we can to prevent any further suffering to those who already desperately need help.
Stop the Violence in Yemen
Petition by Robert Naiman
To be delivered to:
The United States House of Representatives,
The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama
We urge President Obama and Congress to heed Oxfamâ€™s call to push for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Yemen, to ensure access to essential food, fuel and medical supplies by re-opening air and sea routes, and to end the flow of arms to all sides of the conflict.
(May 7, 2015) — Thank you so much for joining us in calling for a permanent ceasefire in Yemen. As you may be aware, on Saturday 18 April our warehouse in Saada was destroyed by an airstrike. It contained humanitarian supplies we had been using before this crisis unfolded, bringing clean water to thousands of households.
It was a setback, but we must continue to help the ordinary people at the centre of this deadly conflict.
Anything you can give today can help us to continue our vital work, and help people to rebuild their lives once again. Thank you.
Civilians Ordered To Leave Yemen’s
Saada Province Ahead of Saudi Strikes
Al Jazeera America
(May 8, 2015) — Saudi authorities warned all civilians to leave Yemen’s northwestern Saada region, which borders the kingdom, by sunset Friday as it threatened a harsh response to the Houthi rebel shelling of Saudi frontier towns earlier this week.
Mortar and rocket salvos fired from Saada killed eight people in the Saudi city of Najran on Thursday as Houthi forces struck a Saudi air defense site near the city.
In response, Saudi-led warplanes bombed targets in Saada province, a bastion of Houthi rebels, Friday. Riyadh then announced a five-day humanitarian cease-fire to begin May 12, conditioned on Houthis agreeing to the pause.
Saudi state television channel Al Ekhbariya said the whole of the arid, mountainous province would become a military target from Friday evening, hinting at an escalation in the Saudi-led coalition’s six-week-old intervention in Yemen’s civil war.
General Ahmed al-Asiri, the coalitionâ€™s military spokesman, said leaflets had been dropped in the Old Saada district urging residents to leave by 7 p.m. local time Friday.
“Our work now is reaching those [Houthis] who planned those attacks and who are hiding in Saada, and the places where the militias are,” Asiri said. “Our military operation will be longer and harsher, and will go after all Houthi commanders.”
The coalition aims to reverse the Shia Houthis cross-country advances — seen by Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and arch-regional rival of Iran, as a security threat — and restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in power. Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of supporting the Houthis militarily — a charge Iran has denied.
Later on Friday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced the planned five-day humanitarian truce “subject to renewal if it works out” — if Houthi forces agree to the pause.
“We hope the Houthis will come to their senses and realize the interests of Yemen and the Yemeni people should be the top priority for everyone,” Jubeir told a news conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris.
“The requirements are first and foremost that there is a commitment by the Houthis and their allies . . . to abide by this cease-fire,” he said. “This cease-fire will [apply] throughout Yemen, or nowhere in Yemen.”
International concern about the humanitarian situation has grown as the airstrikes have killed more than 1,300 people, sent others fleeing from their homes and wrecked infrastructure, causing shortages of food, medicine and fuel.
“It is critically important that all countries are able to send as much relief, as efficiently, as quickly to as many Yemenis as possible,” Jubeir added.
Kerry said such a cease-fire would open the door to the possibility of peace talks. He cautioned, though, that a truce “is not peace” and said it was important that Yemeni leaders tried to reach a lasting political settlement.
“They are going to have to make tough choices more than just a cease-fire because even the most durable of cease-fire is not a substitute for peace,” he said.
Al Jazeera and wire services
Saudis Order Fuel-starved Yemen Civilians to Flee as Airstrikes Escalate
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 8, 2015) — Saudi warplanes pounded the northern Yemeni city of Saada today, hours after blanketing the city with leaflets ordering all civilians out of the Shi’ite-dominated city.
Saada is the traditional base of operations for the Houthis in Yemen, though they have since expanded dramatically, taking almost the entire western coast of Yemen, as well as the major southern port city of Aden.
The Saudis seem to be using the leaflet drop to argue that the massive civilian tolls their strikes on cities are causing aren’t their fault, though aid group Doctors Without Borders warned that the fuel shortages caused by the Saudi naval blockade are keeping many civilians from being able to flee the cities at all.
Doctors Without Borders emergency coordinator Llanos Ortiz added that even if it weren’t for the fuel shortages, it’d be impossible to evacuate the whole Saada Province in just a few hours. The toll from the latest series of airstrikes has not been released.
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