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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

DESPOT ALI ABDULLAH SALEH: Yemen’s Dangerous Hunger Crisis!

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Ellen Knickmeyer / / Jul 18, 2011 9:51 PM EDT.

Yemen Hunger
Scenes of severely malnourished Yemeni children in the Therapeutic feeding center at the Al-Wahda teaching hospital, Aden, Yemen, August 11, 2010., Brent Stirton / Getty Images.

In one of the cities at the center of Yemen’s revolution, tanks and soldiers of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s loyalist forces occupy the main hospital, turning away the civilian sick and wounded, and using the hospital as a vantage point to shell residential neighborhoods at night.

Prices of water as well as food have soared amid Yemen’s political crisis, so that ever more poor families are resorting to drinking water from rain and other contaminated sources, and new reports of cholera outbreaks are reaching the capital, Sana’a. Yemeni cities are emptying of day laborers and other poor, aid officials and residents told me, as men return with their families to their villages in hopes of escaping hunger.

Months of violent political crisis are depleting the savings and stockpiles of more and more Yemenis, so that not only beggars, but neighbors, come round to quietly ask for food.

“There’s no work, no water, no electricity, no security. When we sleep, my family and I are not sure if we will live until morning, because of the shelling on the houses, and the bullets all night,” says Ali Qassim Abdullah, a 44-year-old father of three young children. Abdullah spoke in Yemen’s southern city of Taiz, where loyalist units commanded by the son of Yemen’s president are accused of nightly—and sometimes random—artillery fire.
“The whole world is watching this happen to us in Taiz. And no one speaks or objects,” Abdullah told a Yemeni reporter in Taiz who helped me talk to civilians.

It’s not surprising that Saleh’s government, and his son and nephews in charge of loyalist security forces, are neglecting and even compounding the suffering of civilians. It was Saleh who has driven the country into chaos since protests started in February, and who ignored the fundamental needs of his people throughout his more than three-decade rule.

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