Peace activists are holding a week-long vigil and hunger strike at United Nations headquarters in New York City to demand an end to the U.S.-backed, Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen and humanitarian aid for the country's starving population.
The hunger strike and vigil, organized by Creative Voices for NonViolence, the New York Catholic Worker community, the Upstate Coalition to End the Wars and Ground the Drones, Friends of Franz and Ben, and CodePink, will also include a demonstration at the White House Thursday.
"Stop the bombing; Stop U.S. support to the Saudi regime."
—Medea Benjamin, CodePinkThe activists are calling on President Donald Trump—who claimed that the death of Syria's "beautiful babies" in a chemical weapons attack led to his decision to unilaterally bomb that country—to take note of the mass starvation threatening the children of Yemen.
"President Trump said the horrific death of the beautiful babies in Syria made him take action against the Assad regime. U.S. activists will be showing Trump and the Saudis pictures of the beautiful babies who have been dying a horrific death—death by starvation—because of the Saudi bombing of hospitals, clinics, and civilian infrastructure," said CodePink in a press statement. "The U.S. is supplying the Saudis with bombs and assisting them in this devastating military intervention in the internal affairs of Yemen, taking that country to the brink of famine."
Indeed, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) announced Wednesday that the malnutrition situation in Yemen is "close to a breaking point," and the agency will be scaling up its emergency operation to offer food assistance.
"The situation is getting close to a breaking point in Yemen with unprecedented levels of hunger and food insecurity. Millions of people can no longer survive without urgent food assistance," said Stephen Anderson, WFP representative and country director in Yemen, in a statement. "We are in a race against time to save lives and prevent a full-scale famine unfolding in the country, but we urgently need resources to do this."
The emergency operation is expected to cost $1.2 billion, the WFP says, adding that the "success of this operation hinges on immediate sufficient resources from donors."
"Yemen has historically imported up to 90 percent of its food, mostly through the strategic Red Sea port of Hodeidah," Reuters points out. "But cranes there have been destroyed by airstrikes, forcing dozens of ships to line up offshore because they cannot be unloaded."
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CodePink laid out the desperate humanitarian situation in Yemen in a video:
"While Yemeni children are starving, U.S. weapons makers, including General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, are profiting from weapon sales to Saudi Arabia," CodePink notes. "The activists will be calling for an end to the weapons sales and airstrikes, a silencing of all guns, a negotiated settlement to the war in Yemen, and humanitarian aid for the hungry people."
Earlier this week a bipartisan coalition of U.S. lawmakers called on Trump to seek approval from Congress before opening another theater of war in Yemen, and also drew a distinction between offering humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen and bombing the impoverished, war-torn country.
"Such an attack could push the country into full-blown famine, where nearly half a million children in Yemen are facing starvation," said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), as Common Dreams reported.
"We call on the Saudis and Donald Trump to look at the horrific effect their bombing is having on the beautiful babies in Yemen, where one child is dying every ten minutes from the effects of this war," said CodePink cofounder Medea Benjamin in a statement.
"Trump should be concerned about all suffering babies, whether they are in Syria or Yemen, and do what he can to alleviate their suffering," Benjamin continued. "In the case of Yemen it is easy: Stop the bombing; Stop U.S. support to the Saudi regime."