May 6, 2015
Six weeks into the Saudi-led airstrike campaign to stop the Houthis and allied forces from taking control of Yemen, the humanitarian crisis has reached a critical level. The U.N. has appealed to Saudi Arabia to cease its targeting of airports to allow humanitarian workers to deliver aid and supplies as the fighting has caused severe shortages of food, water, and fuel. Additionally, schools have been suspended as the fighting has spread from major cities into areas along the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. According to the U.N., hundreds of people have been killed and at least 300,000 have been displaced since the fighting began in mid-March.
As the need for aid continues to increase in Yemen, humanitarian groups are considering rejecting a $274 million donation from Saudia Arabia as long as airstrikes against Houthi rebels continue within the country. The donation has been viewed by some as a political move for Saudi Arabia to assuage its guilt and distract attention from the humanitarian impact of the bombing campaign which has reportedly killed over 1,000 people.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has stated that it is considering a temporary cease-fire to allow delivery of humanitarian aid. However, just yesterday coalition airstrikes targeted several airports across Yemen, including the airport in the capital, Sanaa. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Riyadh later this week to encourage the “humanitarian pause.” In positive news, Saudi Arabia has extended its program to grant Yemeni refugees temporary stay in the country, allowing refugees to obtain renewable visit visas initially valid for six months.