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US Senate Votes To End Support For Saudi-led War In Yemen

Washington DC, United States

The United States Senate approved a War Powers Resolution this week to end United States invvolvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands and caused widespread starvation. Attacks by the Saudi coalition on water treatment facilities have exacerbated water-borne disease in the country, in particular the world’s worst cholera epidemic. US President Donald Trump is expected to Veto the Senate resolution.

Vermont independent Senator, and declared Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who co-sponsored the cross-party resolution with Utah Republican Mike Lee, said "We have the opportunity to take a major step forward in ending the horrific war in Yemen and alleviating that terrible, terrible suffering being experienced by the people in one of the poorest countries in the world”.

"There is no secret as to why there is a cholera epidemic. It's because the Saudis bombed the water treatment facilities so the water isn't clean any more," said Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat.

Water networks, power plants, airports, bridges, roads, schools and health facilities have all been destroyed by fighting between the Saudi-led Arab coalition backed by the US and UK, and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since March 2015. Aid groups estimate that as many as 60,000 civilians have been killed in the war and as many as 85,000 children starved to death. In a 2018 UN survey of more than 2,000 respondents across Yemen, more than half (56 per cent) cited water supply damage as the most common form of infrastructure damage.

Background Reading

In January 2019’s issue of Blue Peace Bulletin, India-based international think-tank Strategic Foresight Group examined the issue of protecting water in Yemen.

Trump Likely To Veto

The March 13 US Senate action, which passed 54-46 with seven Republican Senators supporting, sends the resolution back to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve it a second time after having voted 248 to 177 on February 13 to approve the measure. The White House this week indicated that President Trump will exercise a Presidential Veto in order to continue the US’s support of the Saudi-led military action.

UNICEF has called repeated attacks on water systems in Yemen "deplorable". Geert Cappelaere, the agency's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa said last year that: “Continuous attacks on water systems in Yemen are cutting off children and their families from water; increasing the likelihood of water-borne diseases spreading in the war-torn country".

NGO “Save the Children” has said: “Children in Yemen are experiencing severe hardships that no child should endure, facing multiple threats from bombs and bullets to disease and extreme hunger. It’s unacceptable that they’re dying from entirely preventable causes…Treating cholera is straightforward providing children can get the rehydration and antibiotics they need, and hospitals and clinics are adequately equipped. But nearly four years of conflict has led to a near-total collapse of the health system in Yemen. The warring parties have repeatedly attacked medical facilities, making some of them unusable or inaccessible. If this continues many more children could die of cholera and other preventable diseases”.

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