Millions of people across Yemen need aid and protection as the country’s half-decade civil war continues unabated, prompting the hashtag #YemenCantBreathe on social media. But splintering alliances and new fights for territory are deepening the chaos.
The UN-recognised Yemeni government has long battled Houthi fighters in the north, with the military backing of Saudi Arabia. But in recent weeks it has faced growing pressure from the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), their nominal ally against the Houthis. Forces from the STC took control of the southern island of Socotra on June 20 as part of their bid for self-rule in the south, a step the government calls a “full-fledged coup”.
With battle lines being redrawn across the country, aid agencies say it is getting ever more difficult to help people. Thousands of civilians have been killed or injured since 2015, including from Saudi-led air raids on Houthi-held territory. Millions of children face starvation. The UN says the country’s healthcare system has “collapsed” from the weight of coronavirus and cholera outbreaks, and warns that three-quarters of UN-backed aid programmes may close in weeks due to a shortage in funding. International pledges at a recent aid conference fell far short of what is immediately needed.
Is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster sliding out of public consciousness?