No Time For Fear – Politicking Girls: Yemen Crisis Impacts Millions of Girls

The conflict in Yemen has been ongoing since March 2015, affecting millions of women and girls. A March 2017 BBC report cited that more than 7,600 people have been killed and 42,000 injured in the last two years.

The conflict and a blockade imposed by a Saudi-led multi-national coalition has led to 70 percent of the population needing some form of humanitarian aid.

The unrest stems back to a rocky 2011 political transition following an uprising. During the uprising, the balance of power shifted from longtime president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to his deputy, Mr. Hadi. In 2014, Houthi rebels stormed the capital of Sana’a and forced the internationally-recognized government into exile.

In March 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states began a bombing campaign, seeking to oust the Iranian-backed Houthis. The bombings and conflict has weakened the country’s economy and severely damaged the infrastructure — bridges, hospitals and factories are all damaged or simply gone. The Houthis control key areas of the country in the west, including the capital. This means they are essential in all international efforts to resolve the conflict.

The years-long conflict has led to the suffering of millions of people. The New York Times has an in-depth, further look of the situation in Yemen that I would encourage all to read. The United Nations has called the Yemen conflict the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 80 percent of Yemeni children needing immediate assistance. Children are being treated for malnutrition and cholera, if they can make it to the hospital at all. The United Nations says the country will need $2.3 billion in humanitarian aid in 2017 but have received less than half of the amount. A naval blockade means that getting aid into the country remains difficult. Saudi Arabia is one of the greatest aid donors, but continues to spend much more on the war effort than on humanitarian aid.

In March 2017, UNICEF released a report detailing the plight of Yemeni children since the war began. According to the report, a child dies in Yemen every 10 minutes from preventable causes. Girls are being affected at an alarming rate. The country has long struggled with child marriage, but the practice has skyrocketed in the last few years. Families need the dowry money a girl’s marriage provides or can no longer afford care. More than two thirds of girls are now married before their 18th birthday, compared to 50 percent before the conflict. The UNICEF report also says that gender-based violence has increased by 63 percent since the war began.

One of the stories that has stuck with me most recently is of a 5-year-old girl. On August 25, Buthaina Muhammad Mansour survived an air strike that killed all eight members of her immediate family. The image of the girl being carried out of the rubble is absolutely heartbreaking. Buthaina was rushed to the hospital in Sana’a to seek treatment for her injuries. She is now in the care of her aunt and uncle, who haven’t told her about her family yet. CNN reports that the girl’s supporters hope her story will open the world’s eyes to the horrific situation.

It’s easy when reading all of this to feel horrified, disheartened and sad. Feeling all of your emotions is important, especially in times like these. If you’re feeling all of these things and would like to help in some way, here are two of my favorite organizations to donate to:

UNICEF USA

Save the Children

-Sage Daugherty
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

 

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