Over the last few days, several world media outlets have unabashedly touted the “change” in Saudi society as a new positive chapter in the history of a kingdom deeply involved in the killing of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis.
As this year’s Christmas rolled around, the outlets started to promote how the one-time taboo is becoming accepted in Saudi Arabia which wants to become a cultural hub in the region.
But these outlets have failed to recognize that the change, if any, is brought about by an ambitious crown known for his unrelenting cruelty towards critics at home and abroad.
War in Yemen bears witness to this cruelty. As world media touts the Saudi regime’s reforms on the occasion of Christmas, it’s worth taking a look at what international organizations have said about the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen as a result of the Saudi aggression.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has revealed the dark truth about the Saudi aggression against Yemen, noting that the death toll from the war in Yemen will reach 377,000 by the end of 2021.
The toll includes all those who have died as a result of indirect and direct causes.
In a report published in November, the UN body said 70 percent of those killed would be children under the age of five, providing a much bleaker outlook than a previous report by UNICEF which put the children killed or injured in the Yemen war at 10,000.
UNICEF spokesman James Elder told a UN briefing in Geneva in October this year that this was “another shameful milestone.”
He said, “The Yemen conflict has just hit another shameful milestone: 10,000 children have been killed or maimed since fighting started in March 2015. That’s the equivalent of four children every day.”
According to the UNDP report, 60 percent of deaths have been the result of indirect causes, such as hunger and preventable diseases, with the remainder a result of direct causes like front-line combat and air raids, Al Jazeera reported.
“In the case of Yemen, we believe that the number of people who have actually died as a consequence of conflict exceeds the numbers who died in battlefield,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said.
The UNDP report projected that the number of those killed as a result of Yemen’s war could reach 1.3 million by 2030. In other words, by 2030, the Saudi regime would celebrate the accomplishment of economic development goals under the so-called Saudi Vision 2030 while Yemenis grappling with Saudi-led death and destruction.
Saudi Arabia showed no willingness to put an end to its futile war in Yemen despite growing calls from the international community to do so. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia has only intensified its bombing campaign over the past few weeks. It has repeatedly struck Sanaa and other cities under the pretext of targeting arms storage.
The Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, has described the situation as a “major military escalation.” In a statement on Tuesday, he stressed that this escalation undermines the prospects of reaching a sustainable political settlement to end the conflict in Yemen. He also emphasized that violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Yemen cannot continue with impunity.
“The escalation in recent weeks is among the worst we have seen in Yemen for years and the threat to civilian lives is increasing. Airstrikes on Sana’a have resulted in loss of civilian lives, and damaged civilian infrastructure and residential areas,” he said.
“Any targeting of civilians and civilian objects as well as indiscriminate attacks by any actor is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and must stop immediately. The parties must also preserve the civilian character of public infrastructure,” he added.
Grundberg further expressed dismay about the impact of the escalation on an already deteriorating humanitarian situation.
He pointed out, “2021 is ending on a tragic note for Yemenis, millions of whom are struggling with poverty, hunger and severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. In this regard, I reiterate the United Nations’ call for the opening of Sana’a airport and for removing obstacles hindering Yemenis’ ability to move within or between governorates inside Yemen.”