As the "humanitarian nightmare" gripping Yemen rages on, the head of the United Nations World Food Program pleaded for the United States to "end this war," while a group of U.S. lawmakers underscored American complicity in civilian deaths.
"What I have seen in Yemen this week is the stuff of nightmares, of horror, of deprivation, of misery. And we—all of humanity —have only ourselves to blame," World Food Program (WFP) executive director David Beasley told the U.N. Security Council on Friday after finishing a three-day visit to the war-ravaged country.
"This is not on the brink of a catastrophe. This is a catastrophe," he told reporters.
While the White House recently announced it was ending its policy of refueling Saudi planes, the U.S. continues to provide assistance to the bombing campaign with intelligence and arms—that's despite increased scrutiny over rights abuses by the kingdom, and despite the fact that the conflict has led to what the U.N. calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
In light of that role, Beasley said to NPR that the U.S. must "end this war."
In the meantime, the U.S. should provide sufficient funding for the agency to "make certain that every innocent Yemeni who's not involved in combat has the food they need to keep their children and their family alive," Beasley said in the interview that aired Monday.
Beasley's visit to the country included a stop in Hodeidah; it's a key port because over 80 percent of humanitarian aid passes through there. Yet it's become "a true militarized combat zone," he told NPR.
"My heart is breaking after what I saw at the hospital in Hodeidah," Beasley said in a statement. "Small children, so malnourished they're little more than skin and bone, lying there with hardly the strength to breathe. In the name of humanity, I urge all warring parties to put an end to this horrific war. Let the children live and let the people start to rebuild their lives."
UNICEF's regional director Geert Cappelaere, who had just visited over 50 children at a hospital in Hodeidah, had an equally bleak assessment and said last week the conflict had become become a "war on children."
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Given that impact on the nation's youngest, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who just saw House Republicans block a vote on his War Powers Resolution to stop U.S. support for the war, dismissed the suggestion that another bid at the resolution could wait until January, when his party retakes contol of the chamber: "13 million Yemeni civilians are at risk of famine and 500,000 children could die in a matter of months," he stressed. He added, "The deaths of babies and children in Yemen are not abstractions."
The deaths of babies and children in Yemen are not abstractions. Every member of Congress must read this story of a father watching his 4 month old die. This was entirely preventable. What more must happen to stir the conscience of our Congress to act? https://t.co/j1pNEKqSVY— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) November 17, 2018
Some might think that my Yemen resolution can wait until Democrats take control in January.— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) November 17, 2018
But 13 million Yemeni civilians are at risk of famine and 500,000 children could die in a matter of months.
The people of Yemen don’t have the luxury to wait. https://t.co/gzaIQGSiGk
Similarly stressing the urgency of action was Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif):
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who's drawn repeated attention to U.S. involvement in the war, said the U.S. must do more than cut off refueling of Saudi military aircraft. He tweeted Friday: "There is a U.S. imprint on the death of every child in Yemen."
"Yemen has become a hell on earth for millions of children."— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 16, 2018
There is a U.S. imprint on the death of every child in Yemen. And it's time for us to end our role in this humanitarian nightmare. https://t.co/c2qczt5EOd
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who, with Murphy, has War Powers Resolution legislation in the Senate to end U.S. involvement in Yemen that could get a vote in the coming weeks, also made recent calls on social media to end the U.S. role in the war:
The CIA has confirmed what was obvious, that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the direction of the Saudi crown prince. The United States must thoroughly reevaluate our relationship with the brutal Saudi dictatorship, and start by ending support for the catastrophic war in Yemen. https://t.co/BBmx9lpAgL— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 17, 2018
WFP's Beasley said the U.S. should end the war—and as William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, argues Monday, it can take clear steps to do so.
"If it wants to make an earnest effort to protect innocent lives, the Trump administration should end all support for the Saudi/UAE war effort. That includes targeting assistance, arms sales, and the provision of spare parts and maintenance for the existing Saudi and UAE arsenals," he writes in an op-ed at CNN. "Given that the bulk of the Saudi arsenal—including more than half its combat-capable aircraft, tens of thousands of bombs, and 2,000 armored vehicles—is of US-origin, an end to U.S. support could quickly degrade the fighting capability of the Saudi armed forces."
Meanwhile, the Houthis said Monday they were halting their missile attacks against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a move seen as a possible "a turning point in peace efforts."