The face of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has died – let that be a wake-up call to us all

The death of Amal Hussain, the seven-year-old girl who opened so many eyes to the horrors of the war in Yemen, should serve as a reminder of the urgency of holding the British government accountable for their part in the crisis

Amina Atiq
Sunday 04 November 2018 16:21
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Malnutrition centre in Mukalla, Yemen provides care for children suffering hunger and famine

The name “Amal Hussain” will haunt us for the rest of our lives. Only a week ago the portrait of the gaunt seven-year-old “drew an impassioned response from readers”. Days later, we’ve been confronted with the devastating news that she has died. But I can’t help but question whether there was any use in that emotional response, because in the end, it did not do anything to save Amal.

The first time I saw that moving picture of Amal, I did not take in the fact that she was clutching at her own skin, that she had her right cheek turned away from the camera, as if to suggest that she was no longer able to face the world that chose to ignore her.

The first time I saw her, I dared not stare into her eyes, nor did I pick up on the intense pain on her face, exhausted from the constant constant vomiting and diarrhoea her tiny body had to endure.

Malnutrition centre in Mukalla, Yemen provides care for children suffering hunger and famine

I also did not realise the weight of the fact that I would be saying goodbye from the same country that sells its arms to Saudi Arabia, the same country that has failed to question the blockade that is preventing the medical needs that could have saved her.

Amal essentially left behind a portrait showing our miserable failure as human beings.

Last week, I created a petition on Change.org, campaigning for the UK government to stop selling its arms to Saudi Arabia – which is fuelling the war in Yemen. As I write this, over 117,000 have signed, and I am urging everyone to support this petition.

It is our responsibility to pressure our government to do what is morally and ethically right by the Yemeni people. The only solution to end the war is a ceasefire, to lift the blockade and a full investigation into war crimes, because no mother should ever have to see another child die from starvation.

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I leave you with this message: if you are a believer of humanity, let us put a stop to this humanitarian disaster and end the suffering of millions of innocent civilians who have lost their lives in this proxy war. Let us be their unheard voice and call all the participating factions to end the war and allow the people in Yemen to live peacefully. We cannot fail humanity by ignoring the Yemini people’s cries and excruciating pain. This is our war, our arms and our responsibility.

It’s often said that the Yemeni people are known for their hospitality; if you arrive outside a Yemeni person’s home with nothing on your back, it’s likely they’ll give you everything they have, even if there’s not much to offer in the first place. And if they happen see you in danger, it wouldn’t be unheard of for members of the community to round up the men of the village to help either.

While that shouldn’t be the sole basis for treating them with the same respect, for championing their causes and holding the world accountable for ignoring their right to life, today, they need our help more than ever.

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