U.S. remains complicit in perpetuation of Yemen, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

BRATTLEBORO — As Bernie Sanders supported the call for a report on Saudi's war crimes against Yemen, now is the time for the senator to call for the same for Israel's war crimes against Palestine.

In April, Bernie once again worked for relief for Yemen, as co-sponsor of a resolution under section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act, which requires a State Department report on human rights. He's now spoken of forcing a vote on conditioning aid to Israel, best done via a 502B.

Amid escalating events in Gaza and Israel, other suffering around the world has slipped from the headlines, including Yemen. For example, while U.S. backing for Israel funds an extraordinary "pace of death," says The New York Times, the devastating U.S.-backed Saudi blockade on Yemen continues.

Two aspects link my thoughts on current strife in these countries: the horrific circumstances of children, and the exacerbating U.S. monetary and military support.

Israeli children suffer; more than a million children are besieged in Gaza by U.S.-supported Israel. Three-fourths of Yemen's people, including 11 million children, still require humanitarian aid; 20% of those children are "acutely malnourished."

That is the equivalent of 110 million of our children needing aid, were they American, including 2.2 million acutely malnourished little ones, amid regular outbreaks of preventable disease.

This year, two human rights groups documented "grave human rights violations" against Yemeni children in just the first nine months of 2023.

Since we recently marked International Children's Day on Nov. 20, it is disheartening to note the absence of international accountability for violations against Yemen's children. Yemen remains the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with the U.S. complicit in its perpetuation.

As Human Rights Watch reports, multiple accounts by NGOs and the U.S. government show unabated "widespread civilian harm resulting from the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen."

For more than eight years, U.S. dollars supported the Saudi war on Yemen. We still enable the Saudi blockade, which has been central to the humanitarian crisis since the beginning. Though the blockade has sporadically eased a bit, supplies and infrastructure needs remain woefully inadequate. There's no mechanism to ensure active fighting doesn't recur.

Meanwhile, according to U.S. standards, Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza. It is crucial that we enforce our own laws and cease funding actions that violate them. A vote on conditional aid using a 502B resolution - the same mechanism employed for Saudi Arabia in April - will achieve this.

Our values should not tolerate illegal actions in our country, particularly human rights violations, and we must apply the same scrutiny to countries we fund.

Thankfully, our Sen. Sanders has repeatedly called for the U.S. to stop military and technical support of the Saudis in Yemen. Our now-Sen. Peter Welch has done the same. Along with Rep. Becca Balint, they currently speak up for relief for Gaza, too, as advocates for justice and human rights.

It's beyond time to end U.S. military patronage for the Saudis in Yemen and for the Israelis in Palestine.

This Voices Letters from readers was submitted to The Commons.

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