crisis in yemenCivil war has taken over Yemen for over five years. As a result, upward of 12 million minors are in desperate need of some form of humanitarian aid, making the crisis in Yemen the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. Experts fear Yemen’s violent and impoverished conditions will have a severe effect on the mental health, and consequent futures, of the country’s children.

Violence in Yemen

As a country of extreme poverty to begin with, Yemen is struggling in this time of war. Violence and fighting remain constant as clashing forces, including the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition, fight for power.

Although all demographics in Yemen have been strongly affected, children are bearing the brunt of this crisis in Yemen. The Yemen Data project recorded over 17,500 deaths since the beginning of the war in 2015. The deaths of children were a large portion of the casualties, forcing Yemeni children to constantly fear the death of a friend, sibling or even their own death. Additionally, with approximately 12 airstrikes on Yemen each day, the sounds of war are consuming. The war is inescapable for those in Yemen.

Health and Nutrition During Crisis

Many of the systems taken for granted in developed countries collapsed in Yemen as a result of the war. Health services are extremely limited, leaving over 10 million Yemeni children without access to healthcare services, which are of great importance in one’s formative years. High rates of disease and unsanitary conditions due to the overcrowding of millions of displaced families make the lack of these services even more tragic.

Furthermore, the crisis in Yemen has placed over 10 million Yemenis at risk of famine, while double this number are already food insecure. Such malnutrition results in the hindered development of children in Yemen.

Another system that is important to the development of children in general is the education system. Like the systems mentioned before, Yemen’s educational system has also suffered amidst this continuing war. As of June 2020, almost 8 million Yemeni children were unable to attend school, damaging their development and futures.

Yemen Mental Health Studies

A recent study conducted by Save the Children, an organization aiming to better the lives of the world’s children through health, educational and aid services, surveyed over 1,250 Yemeni children and guardians. From this survey, Save the Children found 50% of the children who responded said they experience feelings of depression amidst the crisis in Yemen.

In addition to feelings of sadness, 20% of the children said they live in extreme fear. Parents and caregivers supported this statistic, claiming their children had experienced increased incidents of nightmares and bedwetting. Such common feelings and behaviors indicate a growing prevalence of mental health disorders, including PTSD and depression, in children in Yemen.

Consequences of the Crisis in Yemen

Dr. Carol Donnelly, a psychotherapist and professor of psychology at Northwestern University, told The Borgen Project about her concern for children experiencing the conditions of the crisis in Yemen. “If the trauma lasts for too long, which apparently it is, the kids could have all sorts of dissociative experiences (related to PTSD), just extreme mental health issues,” Donnelly said.

With constant fears of attack and altered living conditions in Yemen, Donnelly stated that there may be potential consequences of changing parent-child relationships during this crisis. “[Children] need to be in a relationship with an adult, not only for attachment emotionally, but just for learning so many things,” she said. “This relationship helps to wire the brain up properly, and if kids are not getting that because the parents are overwhelmed as well, we’re just going to have a whole generation of severely traumatized children. Children that will just be a burden on the entire society.”

She also referenced Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, explaining that we need to provide the most basic needs of these children, such as water and food, as a priority. Then we must provide these Yemeni children safety and shelter before ensuring they have loving relationships. By following this psychological theory, she hopes children will be able to mentally progress despite the crisis in Yemen.

Aid from Afar

Several global organizations are working to provide assistance to this generation of suffering Yemeni children in order to help them become successful regardless of their conditions. One such organization, Save the Children, has made efforts to make these children feel safe amidst the crisis in Yemen by creating engaging, peaceful spaces for children in Yemen to play and spend time with friends while consequently promoting further cognitive development. Here, these children can act without fear, as normal children would. Since the initiation of this project, almost a quarter of a million Yemeni children have visited these spaces.

Additionally, Save the Children is working to promote awareness around childhood mental health and rights in Yemen while also training mental specialists in the country. With only a couple of child psychiatrists servicing the entirety of Yemen, there is little education for the general population of Yemen surrounding this area of healthcare.

“Psychology is just … not recognized as a formal science in some countries yet. It is still very much stigmatized,” Donnelly agreed. “I think what would be a good solution is to have a psychologist train the people there how to simply be present and to exude unconditional love and empathy and to listen. That’s something anyone can do.”

– Hannah Carroll
Photo: Flickr

,humanitarian crisesOur world today consists of 195 countries. The sheer volume of people on this planet and the scale of the problems they face can be overwhelming, especially when thinking of humanitarian aid. For this reason, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) began making a yearly emergency watchlist in 2019, highlighting which countries are facing humanitarian crises and require significant urgent aid.

The International Rescue Committee

The IRC has been around since the early 1900s and works globally to improve the lives of those impacted by global health issues, conflict, and natural disasters. They focus on empowering individuals to take back control of their lives. In their U.S. offices, the IRC provides aid to displaced individuals seeking asylum in the U.S.

Generating the List

The IRC analyzes a variety of factors to decide a nation’s human risk, natural risk, vulnerability, and ability to cope during a crisis. These factors are then used to decide which countries are most in danger of humanitarian crises and require the most aid.

10 Countries Facing Humanitarian Crises in 2020

  1. Yemen: Roughly 80% of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance this year, including more than 12 million children. Yemen has been in a civil war for 5 years that has destroyed infrastructure, sanitation systems, medical centers, food distribution capabilities, and has killed roughly 250,000 citizens. Global organizations such as UNICEF agree that the crisis in Yemen is the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”
  2. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): More than 15.9 million people in the DRC need humanitarian assistance this year. The Eastern DRC has been plagued with conflict and instability for nearly 30 years. This persistent instability has made it difficult for the country to develop infrastructure and food security. The current humanitarian risks in the DRC revolve around food security, Ebola, and Measles. To date, more than 2,000 people have died from Ebola in the DRC, making this the second-largest outbreak in the world.
  3. Syria: 11 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance this year. Since conflict broke out in 2011, more than half of the Syrian population has been displaced. Civilians have been caught in the crossfire of the war between President Assad and opposition groups. These years of conflict have caused extreme damage to Syrian infrastructure, including medical and educational resources.
  4. Nigeria: Close to 8 million Nigerians in the conflict-ridden states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe currently need humanitarian assistance, especially regarding sexual violence. Since 2009, roughly 13,000 civilians have died, and thousands of women and children have been assaulted. This year, 826 allegations of sexual abuse were presented in a report to the UN, but many believe that the number of cases is much higher. The northeast of Nigeria is seeing large levels of food insecurity, displacement, violence, and an outbreak of cholera.
  5. Venezuela: 7 million Venezuelans need humanitarian assistance this year. Due to political conflict, Venezuela is facing an economic crisis that has left 94% of households in poverty. Severe inflation has made the cost of basic goods so high that most Venezuelans cannot afford them. Because of this, an estimated 5,000 Venezuelans flee the country every day.
  6. Afghanistan: More than 9.4 million Afghans need humanitarian assistance this year. Since the 2001 NATO invasion that ousted the Taliban, Afghanistan has been experiencing political instability and conflict. The Taliban now controls more of the country than ever before, and after a failed peace deal in 2019, the country faces another contested election. An additional side effect of the conflict in Afghanistan has been a surge in mental illness. Although Afghanistan does not provide mental health reports, the World Health Administration estimates that more than a million Afghans suffer from depression and more than 1.2 million suffer from anxiety.
  7. South Sudan: More than 7.5 million people in South Sudan need humanitarian assistance this year. Since the civil conflict began in 2013, nearly 400,000 people have died, and millions have been displaced. South Sudan is also facing a massive food insecurity crisis that has been exacerbated by the conflict.
  8. Burkina Faso: In Burkina Faso, roughly 2.2 million people need humanitarian assistance, but the situation is drastically worsening. Armed groups are carrying out attacks throughout the nation. This caused the displacement of more than 500,000 people by the end of 2019. According to the UN 2019 report, the number of internally displaced people (IDFs) increased by 712% from January to December.
  9. Somalia: Roughly 5.2 million Somalis are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Since the fall of President Muhammed Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has been facing persistent instability and conflict. This conflict has led more than 740,000 people to flee the country. In addition, Somalia is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters due to its underdevelopment.
  10. Central African Republic (CAR): More than 2.6 million Central Africans need humanitarian assistance this year. In 2013, an armed alliance called the Seleka overran the capital of the CAR. Political instability has been rampant ever since. More than a quarter of all Central Africans were displaced, causing food insecurity and underdevelopment.

Although the countries on this watchlist represent 6% of the world’s population, they comprise 55% of those identified to be in need by the 2020 Global Humanitarian Overview. The IRC’s watchlist is an extremely helpful resource that should be utilized for the assessment of which countries are facing humanitarian crises and require foreign aid.

Danielle Forrey
Photo: Pixabay

Yemen's Healthcare System
For people across the globe, the battle against COVID-19 can feel hopeless. Developed countries like the U.S. have struggled to contain the virus; COVID-19 has infected over 5 million Americans since March 2020. However, extensive healthcare resources have helped developed immensely. Ventilators and ICU beds, access to proper sanitation, and the technology to work from home have left many unscathed and have allowed many to make a full recovery. Therefore, it is important to remember the countries that do not have these resources. For example, COVID-19 has been particularly devastating in Yemen, in part, due to Yemen’s healthcare system. 

Conflict, Cholera and COVID-19

Yemen has been enduring a civil war for over five years. The main conflicts are between Houthi rebels and the government of President Hadi. In addition to claiming over 100,000 lives, the violence has exacerbated already daunting public health statistics. Currently, about 50% of the country’s medical facilities are nonfunctional. The U.N. has reported that Yemen is enduring the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with about 80% of the population (or 24.1 million people) in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. In addition, the country is enduring the worst modern-day cholera crisis, reporting approximately 110,000 cases in April 2020.

With the backdrop of the ongoing civil war, Yemen’s healthcare system is unable to support the country. Yemen has 500 ventilators and 700 ICU beds for a population of over 28 million. The Associated Press reported that there are no doctors in 18% of 333 Yemeni districts. Although the country has reported one of the lowest transmission rates in the Middle East, this is largely due to an inability to test. In fact, the country has processed fewer than 1,000 tests; this is about 31 tests per 1 million citizens. There is also evidence of purposeful under testing. The Houthi Ministry of Public Health and Population stated that reporting statistics have negative effects on the psychological health and immune systems of citizens.

Hospitals have seen a 40% mortality rate and have resorted to admitting patients based on age and odds of survival, reported Marc Schakal, Doctors Without Borders’ Deputy Operations Manager for Yemen. The country’s health system has “collapsed” according to the UNHCR. Lise Grande, the U.N. head of humanitarian operations in Yemen reported that the COVID-19 death toll could “exceed the combined toll of war, disease, and hunger over the last five years.”

COVID-19’s Impact Beyond the Healthcare System

The virus has also driven up the prices of food necessities, adding to the high toll of families that rely on aid to survive day-to-day. The U.N. has been attempting to help, but with a lack of funds, it is only possible to provide half-rations for the 8 million-plus hungry people. Hunger has hit women and children the hardest; over 2 million children under the age of 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition.

The lack of international aid in the face of such a tragedy is saddening. Millions of people are essentially being left to die. The United States cut $73 million of aid towards Yemen in March 2020, just as the virus was becoming a global issue. The statistics clearly show it will take a greater effort from the global community to improve Yemen’s outlook.

How to Help

As Sara Beysolow Nyant, UNICEF’s representative to Yemen, expressed, without urgent funding, “The international community will be sending a message that the lives of children in a nation devastated by conflict, disease, and economic collapse, simply do not matter.” Unfortunately, most countries have focused on containing the virus internally. Hopefully, some of the international community will turn its attention to the countries in the greatest need.

For individuals looking to help, donations to groups like UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam will provide aid. Additionally, calling and emailing Congress can also have a profound impact.

Abigail Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Displacement in Yemen and Somalia
In 2019, an estimation concluded that 29 million Americans would spend a total of nearly $500 million to dress up their pets on Halloween. Half a billion dollars is equivalent to 25% of the money needed to fund the U.N.’s June through December 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan assisting Yemen. War and displacement in Yemen and Somalia have caused a lack of funds and resources in these countries. However, some organizations are attempting to provide aid.

The History of Yemen and Somalia

Yemen’s poverty rate increased from 47% of the population living in poverty in 2014 to 75% at the end of 2019. The war in Yemen is contributing to poverty, and if it continues, Yemen could become the poorest country in the world by 2022. Yemen has been in a civil war since 2014 when Houthi rebels took over the capital. The conflict took off when a Saudi-led military coalition fought back against the rebels to defend the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The combat has been going on ever since and has plunged Yemen deeper and deeper into poverty.

The nearby country of Somalia has been struggling as well. General Siad Barre led a military coup and took over the government in 1969. In 1988, northern tribes rebelled against the dictator, and then in 1991, tribes from the north and south fought and brought down Barre. From 1991 on, a civil war has ravaged Somalia, with different factions fighting throughout the country.

The Displacement of Somalis

As the Somalian civil war has been charging on, Yemen, despite its instability, has been a place of refuge for around 200,000 fleeing Somalis. The action and displacement in Yemen and Somalia have caused many hardships for these countries’ citizens. The incoming Somalis, as well as the Yemenis, are facing dire conditions due to circumstances in Yemen. For example, Yemen imports most of its food, but since the beginning of the war, the cost of wheat flour has increased by 120%. The high poverty rate, combined with rising food prices, is leading to malnourishment affecting 3.2 million children and women.

Along with war and displacement in Yemen and Somalia increasing the risk of famine, Yemen is struggling with health care facilities. The war caused damage to more than half of Yemen’s health care facilities; as a result, these facilities were unable to provide sterile water and sanitation to 20.5 million people. Poor sanitation leads to many disease outbreaks, and this threat compounds the already-present risk of COVID-19. This situation is not only dangerous for Yemenis but also affects Somalian refugees residing in the country.

Aid for Yemenis and Somalis

Mercy Corps has been helping people in Yemen by providing them with food vouchers, repairing their water systems and educating them about health. In 2019, Mercy Corps assisted 1.2 million people, and the organization is now working to limit the effects of COVID-19.

Besides Mercy Corps, the UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, is also helping to mitigate the effects of displacement in Yemen and Somalia. The UNHCR began its Assisted Spontaneous Return (ASR) program in 2017. The ASR program assists Somalis on their return home from Yemen. By 2019, the ASR program had organized 37 trips, and more than 4,800 refugees had returned from Yemen to Somalia.

Fashion designer Gabriela Hearst has also decided to pitch in to help Yemen. From December 2 to 9, 2019, she donated all of her proceeds to Save the Children. Save the Children is a nonprofit organization that works towards relief on the ground in Yemen. To make the initiative more successful, she decided to “make her eclectic handbags” available at her online store. Typically, she only sells this handbag collection by request giving it a high value.

There is more the world can do to combat the war and displacement in Yemen and Somalia; however, Mercy Corps, the UNHCR and individuals such as Gabriela Hearst are making significant strides toward improvement.

Hailee Shores
Photo: Flickr

6 Facts about Homelessness in Yemen
Before conflict escalated in Yemen, many considered the country the poorest in the Middle East and North African region. Poverty affected half the population, about 29 million people, before the crisis. Today, poverty impacts 71% to 78% of the population. The Yemen Crisis has led to increased homelessness and internally displaced persons. In addition, more than 3.6 million people lived in displacement at the end of 2019. Below are six facts about homelessness in Yemen.

6 Facts about Homelessness in Yemen

  1. The internally displaced persons in Yemen are facing challenges beyond homelessness. More than 80% of the population requires humanitarian assistance and many Yemenis do not have access to clean water, food and health care. Children and women are among the most vulnerable to the crisis. Moreover, many international organizations, such as UNICEF, Oxfam and the World Food Program, are helping these helpless Yemenis.
  2. Aside from the conflict, natural disasters have contributed to an increase in internally displaced persons. In late May and June 2019, torrential rains and flash floods hit Yemen. It directly affected a total of 80,000 people.
  3. In 2013, Yemen designed a national policy on internal displacement. However, due to a lack of government capacity and legal structure for its implementation, international organizations have become responsible for aiding internally displaced persons.
  4. The COVID-19 pandemic heightens the risk for internally displaced persons. Epidemiological projections estimate that COVID-19 could infect nearly 16 million people in Yemen or 55% of the population. Additionally, most displaced people live in overcrowded camps where they lack access to clean water, sanitation and other essential services. Moreover, flash flooding in Marib increased the chances of another cholera outbreak.
  5. The International Organization for Migration reported that “18,320 refugees and migrants arrived in April 2019 and 18,904 people arrived in May 2019.” Refugees and migrants intend to move through Yemen to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Ethiopians make up 90% of the arrivals into Yemen. In addition, 10% of the arrivals were Somalis. Refugees and migrants face human trafficking, kidnapping, dying at sea, lack of clean water or sufficient food and traveling through a war-zone region.
  6. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners are working hard to protect internally displaced persons. In the first half of 2019, UNHCR and its partners distributed 39,754 basic household items and non-food item kits, 10,156 Emergency Shelter Kits and 513 Transitional Shelter Kits. The organization is currently designing 192 Refugee Housing Units in different regions in Yemen. Moreover, the UNHCR focuses on community and addressing tensions between displaced persons and their host communities. Community-Based Networks (CBPN) connect humanitarian aid to the affected population and raise awareness for community support projects. CBPNs referred to 180,009 individuals for protection assessments to UNHCR protection partners.

Yemen is in desperate need of aid to provide its people with essentials. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict in Yemen continue to push Yemeni people into extreme poverty and homelessness. The U.S. and international organizations must come up with finances to help Yemen’s dire situation. Without the support of the global community, Yemenis will go to sleep hungry, thirsty and in unsuitable living conditions.

Mia Mendez
Photo: Flickr

online activismGeneration Z has grown up in a time of endless war, online activism and extreme cultural change. With unlimited access to the internet, many Zoomers have become adept with technology. They often use the internet to self-educate on important topics and become more globalized people. Generation Z has channeled their frustration in society into online activism, creating an international movement of social awareness.

Generation Z’s Innovation

Gen Z has grown up with online activism. Teenagers care about making a difference in a way that is accessible to them. A campaign from 2015 that revived in 2019 involved turning a person’s Instagram profile picture blue in solidarity with the Sudan protests. It brought attention to the fact that the Sudan military opened fire on unarmed demonstrators and killed over 100 people. One of the demonstrators who died, Mohammad Mattar, had a blue image as his profile picture. The #BlueForSudan trend started in honor of him and the protests. Turning Instagram profile pictures blue increased awareness and encouraged many young people to educate themselves on the situation.

Most Zoomers use various kinds of social media platforms, but one of the best platforms to reach millions is TikTok. Posting a graphic on an Instagram story with a small platform frequently reaches hundreds. However, on TikTok, 100 followers could easily make a video go viral. Teens have figured out that by commenting, pressing the “copy link” button and rewatching the video, the TikTok algorithm will give more attention to the video, hence increasing its audience. This knowledge allows Zoomers to make any video go viral to inform millions of people.

Action and Awareness

Similarly, Gen Z has also found that it can mobilize and overtake certain hashtags. For example, the recent #blackouttuesday demonstration led to the creation of over 20 million posts in a day to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. As the most technologically advanced generation, Gen Z can easily operate through online activism to create change.

Gen Z members have also begun to utilize scripted emails to quickly contact their representatives in support of specific causes. A pre-written email in the U.K. has become popular to show support in ending the Yemen crisis. The Borgen Project and many other organizations have noticed this effective way to create meaningful change in government and have provided an assortment of scripted emails for citizens to send to their representatives.

Another popular way of spreading awareness about important issues is through the repost button on Instagram. Instagram stories are a popular way to spread information to many people. It is now very efficient to share important news with your followers with minimal work.

How Generation Z is Increasing Foreign Aid

Generation Z comprises of teenagers and college students. Therefore, most Zoomers do not have the funds to donate directly and have found alternative ways to fundraise. The most common way to do this is through YouTube ads. Creators put ads on their videos to generate revenue for donations. One hour-long video that the account “haera shin” created was to collect donations for Save The Children, a humanitarian organization helping end the Yemen crisis.

Zoomers also popularized Cardd.co links: free links to spread resources on a customizable single-page website. Most have links to resources to learn more about the topic, petitions to sign, how to contact your representatives and other information to know. One Yemen Cardd.co is incredibly popular and has reached a significant number of people as Zoomers continue to link the Cardd.co in their Instagram, Twitter and other social media bios.

Petitions For Change

Zoomers have popularized using petitions to create awareness and have even created a new internet trend meant to increase petition signatures. They are using a character called Manny, from the book series “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” as a reminder to go sign a petition. For example, whenever a drawing of Manny pops up on one’s social media feed, it is a prompt to sign a petition. The Manny character first arose in an attempt to prank Fox News. It featured a petition to change the American flag to what Zoomers call the “Manny flag.” The petition started as a joke, but it created a reminder that gets thousands of Zoomers to sign petitions hourly.

Most petitions that people are signing at the moment are in relation to Black Lives Matter or the Yemen crisis. As petitions gain attention and signatures increase, pressure mounts on leaders to take action. By participating in online activism, teenagers are helping change the world without a single click, a feat no other generation has accomplished before.

Jacquelyn Burrer
Photo: Flickr

TikTok ActivismYemen’s humanitarian crisis is routinely categorized as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Over the last five years, from when the Yemeni Civil War launched the emergency, children have been hit the hardest. Tens of thousands of children have died, not only from the conflict but also due to preventable diseases and malnutrition. UNICEF estimates that about 80% of Yemen’s population is in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Because children are among the most affected by the crisis, four out of every five children (about 12.3 million) require help. TikTok activism, spearheaded by millennials and Gen Z, has been instrumental in bringing awareness to this pressing issue.

Though this crisis certainly isn’t new, its importance has become increasingly relevant on social media, and perhaps just in time. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, Yemen is facing a twofold crisis. There is a short supply of clean water, sanitation, and necessary protective equipment. Not only are many healthcare facilities closed or out of operation, but many health workers aren’t being paid. If there was a greater time to bring to light the severity of what’s going on in Yemen, it appears to be now.

Social Media Activism

With 90 percent of people aged 18-29 using at least one social media site, Millennials and Gen Z rule the internet. Different social media apps have evolved to have a specific brand of content. For example, Instagram is a place for aesthetically and visually pleasing pictures. TikTok became famous for dance trends and short, funny videos. Twitter is known for its 480 character-long quippy remarks.

In recent months, young adults and teens have used apps like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram for more than status updates. Instead, they’ve cleverly utilized the apps’ algorithms to spread the word of issues that are important to them, one of which is the crisis in Yemen. According to research done by Pew Research Center, 44 percent of people aged 18-29 “encouraged others to take action on issues that are important to them.” This is exemplified in the way these young adults are advocating and rallying to end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Activism on TikTok

User @_mennabarakaa is an example of TikTok activism. She posted a video to her TikTok account performing dance moves that have become nearly synonymous with the app. In front of the dance moves, she posted facts about the crisis in Yemen and encouraged followers to donate. The video was viewed over 141,000 times and has received around 25,000 likes.

This is not the first TikTok on the subject that has gone viral. Another, posted by Jinan, known as @jinanchwdhury on TikTok, started off a “hair reveal,” teasing users by pretending to take off her hijab. Instead, she cut to photos and facts about Yemen. Both videos were 60 seconds or less.

@jinanchwdhury

#fyp #hijabi #foryou #foryoupage #DazItUp #prideicon #activist #blm #blacklivesmatter #savetheuighurs #uighurmuslims #yemen #saveyemen #yemencrisis

♬ never be the same slowed – newslowedsongz

Jinan, who currently has 53.3K followers on TikTok, started using her account for activism because she felt stuck offline.

“I initially posted content on the Yemen crisis because I wished to help however I could,” she wrote via Instagram direct messages. Since she was a teenager, she felt there wasn’t much she could do. “I tried to sign as many petitions as I could, and I thought that using my voice and raising awareness is a crucial way for me to do my part.”

TikTok has been essential in how she’s advocated for other teenagers to do what they can to help the Yemen crisis. She reposts content she finds helpful on Twitter and Instagram, and her TikTok is where she puts content into her own words.

TikTok’s algorithm

TikTok’s algorithm, which is based partly on how an individual user interacts with content, also pushes videos with certain hashtags. This is good news for TikTok activism creators like Jinan. If their videos end up on a user’s page because the poster utilized popular hashtags (like Jinan did in her hijab video), the user may interact with that video. As a result, they’re more likely to see similar TikToks. This algorithm is something that Jinan has used to her advantage.

She believes the app’s algorithm makes it easier for her content to get seen. “The reason why I started activism on TikTok was to maximize the amount of people I could reach and raise awareness to.” And it works — her videos consistently rake in thousands of view. Jinan’s video on the Yemen crisis received over 440 thousand views.

“I’m so grateful that [the Yemen video] reached hundreds of thousands of people,” Jinan wrote. “I feel as though I did as much as I could by raising awareness to so many people.”

Activism on Instagram

This new wave of social media activism isn’t limited to TikTok. Journalist Mary Retta claims “the Instagram Article” has used aesthetics to their advantage and spread activist content to users who otherwise wouldn’t engage in it. Accounts like @soyouwanttotalkabout and @impact package information through short, 7-to-10-page slideshows that feature fun colors and fonts. This beautification of the news, while different from a typical article, is effective in its goal. The accounts have 1.2 million and 455 thousand followers, respectively, and are just two of many similar pages. Instagram is also a completely free app. Information on global health crises is not locked behind a paywall like it is for other mainstream news services.

This social media revolution of sorts is a huge development in the involvement of young adults and teenagers for issues such as global poverty. By crafting content catered to be successful on specific apps, more and more young adults are not only raising awareness for these issues but also encouraging others to do what they can.

Sophie Grieser
Photo: Flickr

Yemeni child soldiers
Yemen is a young country struggling through many internal problems. A civil war began in 2015 between the Yemeni government, with backing from Saudi Arabia, and the Houthi rebels. Now, it has become a conflict involving international leaders and is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the last 100 years. This is partly due to the mass exploitation of Yemeni child soldiers. It is very difficult to discover the exact number of recruited children due to the fluid roles of children, associated with family shame and fear. However, numbers ranged from about 3,000 to 50,000 children as of 2019.

Growing Up

Many Yemeni child soldiers have faced unfathomable hardships even before fighting. They have been constantly fleeing their homes to avoid airstrikes and war zones. Because of this, 3.4 million children are out of school and many are trying to earn the little money they can like Salah, who is about 11, and whose family cannot afford meals every day. Starvation and disease-ridden camps have been the way of life for thousands of families since the war began five years ago.

Conversely, schools recruit children in regions with access to education through “indoctrination” from lectures. The Houthi movement’s founder gives these lectures and transcribes them into booklets known as “Malazem.” During this, children as young as 10 view graphic images of the war and others who have died for the cause. This encourages them to do the same. A mother told the Group of Experts, a partition of the U.N. Human Rights Council, that she fears for her son’s future. She also said that such practices are prevalent across the region.

Recruitment also occurs in surrounding countries like Sudan, a country also struggling from domestic conflicts. Approached at 14, Hager Shomo Ahmed had received an offer of $10,000 in exchange for his service in the war. Like many children, this was dire for his family, as they became penniless after others stole their cattle.

Persuaded and desperate for food, purpose and money, thousands of children like these entered the war.

During the War

From both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels, many Yemeni child soldiers went to the front lines. More than 1,000 have been coerced to fight.

Some dragged bodies from the field (sometimes even their own family), others would do kitchen services and others trained to use rifles. Naji, Younis and Saleh, Yemeni child soldiers who were around 11 and 13 at the time, recounted stories like these. A Saudi rehabilitation center that has helped about 400 boys has created a safe space for these stories.

A psychiatrist at a Marib rehabilitation center, Mayoub al-Makhlafi, says children have suffered as fighters and servants. Staffers recount children’s descriptions of experiencing beatings and sexual abuse from their own commanders.

Many, promised with money and non-combatant roles, find themselves in traffickers’ hands and training camps. Some are sent to patrol checkpoints 12 hours a day. Others are the first to be dispatched as human bodyguards. The young foot soldiers have no other option since they are lured with knowledge of a steady income sent home or depicted as martyrs.

The war has killed over 2,000 Yemeni child soldiers, as UNICEF reported in 2018. However, due to poor access to Yemen and limited data collection, these numbers are could be much higher.

Surviving After

Younis and his mother, Samira, shared the nightmares he used to have about the Houthis taking him again and how his mother would comfort him back to sleep.

In Dhamar, Yemen, a teacher places a photograph on desks of 14 former students during the Week of the Martyr, a celebration that the Houthi government enforces to continue its propaganda about the honor of fighting. The children, mostly fifth and sixth graders, mourn their friends. Those who do not die find themselves in displacement camps, like 14-year-old Morsal. Like many of his comrades, Morsal suffers from panic attacks, aggressive behavior and hearing loss from airstrikes and explosions.

Fifteen-year-old Mohammad’s father, Ali Hameed, details a time before the war and how his son had started working after graduating high school. He sadly continued to when his son left to join the Saudi coalition and then went missing. Some of the boys from Mohammad’s unit were able to flee and return home and the Houthis captured others. Mohammad was not part of either group.

Others like Hager, who had lost 180 men in his unit, were able to return home. By earning some money for his service, he was able to buy his family 10 cattle to restore their livelihood.

Relief Efforts

Coping with such traumatic events is extremely difficult for adults. However, the horrors are greater for children. Fortunately, The Wethaq Foundation for Civil Orientation developed eight rehabilitation centers across Yemen. As of 2019, it has helped 2,000 Yemeni child soldiers in psychological support and children’s rights education.

Internationally, the Child Protection and Children Friendly Spaces programs, initiatives of UNICEF, have given over 600,000 children psychosocial support through individual counseling, reading, cooperative games and family reunification, as of 2018 in Yemen.

Victim assistance is another crucial sector for children who have lost limbs. Such assistance is possible through Prosthesis and Rehabilitation centers in Yemen for children with disabilities as a result of the war. These centers receive support from the International Committee of the Red Cross. In just 2019, they have been able to provide over 1.1 million Yemenis emergency care in 18 hospitals that the IRC supports, and given food, essential home supplies, cash grants and access to clean water to 5.7 million Yemenis.

Broadly focused groups like War Child, working in North and South Yemen, have offered assistance to more than 30,000 children and families. War Child provides psychosocial support through coping mechanisms for trauma, recreational activities and legal support to enable school enrollment. Through school restoration and cash assistance to families, it is able to provide better futures for children.

Supporting these groups and others, vital for long-term recovery, is essential to nurturing the Yemeni child soldiers who have fallen victim to this waging war and the millions of civilians in the entire region suffering from starvation, displacement and great loss.

– Mizla Shrestha
Photo: Flickr

Celebrities who advocated for YemenYemen is currently facing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. In fact, 80% of 24 million Yemen citizens are in dire need of humanitarian aid and around 50% of them are children. On top of battling high poverty and famine rates, Yemen has also had to handle the rapid spread of COVID-19. Many healthcare workers are volunteering their services while not receiving a salary. Meanwhile, 10.2 million children do not have access to basic healthcare and now their futures are uncertain. Additionally, the ecology issue in Yemen is partially responsible for political instability. Yemen’s lack of a main water source has led to a low supply of food. This unfortunate problem has created many disputes in rural areas over food and water supplies. The quarrels are responsible for about 4,000 deaths each year. These conflicts have led many American celebrities to advocate for the country. Below are five celebrities who advocate for Yemen.

5 Celebrities Who Advocate For Yemen

  1. Halsey: Halsey is an American singer, songwriter and activist who advocates on her social media about the humanitarian crisis Yemen is currently experiencing. She shared that she made a $20,000 donation to help the children who are suffering. Halsey encourages her supporters to shed a light on Yemen’s issue by sharing her post and donating.
  2. George Clooney: Back in 2017, George Clooney, an American actor, film producer, director and activist, began advocating on the crisis in Yemen and other neighboring countries. People know him well for his humanitarian services. At the time, he encouraged all Americans to contribute donations for those suffering on impoverished lands.
  3. Gigi Hadid: The American fashion model Gigi Hadid advocated about Yemen’s crisis through an Instagram story. She brought awareness by sharing a post from an Instagram account named @muslim. In addition, Hadid provided a post with links for her fans to donate.
  4. Ben Stiller: Since 2017, Ben Stiller, an American actor, comedian, film producer, film director and writer has been urging citizens to pay attention to countries facing huge humanitarian crises. These countries include Somalia and its neighboring territories. He posted a two-minute video on his Twitter, informing viewers of how citizens are dying due to the lack of resources in countries like Yemen.
  5. Mark Ruffalo: The American actor and producer who many know for his role in “Avengers: Endgame” has called for citizens to help stop the ongoing illegal war in Yemen. In a video he recorded, Ruffalo informed his viewers that the United States is providing weapons to Saudi Arabia and that Saudi Arabia is using starvation as a tactic of war. He stated that the U.S. involvement is unconstitutional and needs to stop. Ruffalo has urged people to call Congress and vote for the Sanders-Lee Resolution to end the “unauthorized U.S. war in Yemen.”

When celebrities advocate on behalf of countries in need of aid, such as Yemen, they are bringing awareness to millions of their social media followers who were possibly unaware of foreign issues. By informing fans and making generous donations, the celebrities who advocate for Yemen can change and improve the living conditions of the country’s citizens.

Megan Ha
Photo: Flickr

Crisis in YemenTucked between Saudi Arabia and the Gulf of Aden, Yemen is suffering from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis – and COVID-19 may be the final straw that wipes the Middle Eastern country off the map.

The current crisis in Yemen arises from a complex history of unrest. From 2010 to 2012, the Arab Spring ushered in a period of political rebellion throughout the Middle East. Accordingly, Yemen’s push for democracy facilitated the rocky transition of power from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to his vice president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Years of domestic hardship followed.

Islamic Houthi rebels and Saleh loyalists capitalized on Hadi’s weak state and seized control of the capital city of Sanaa in 2014. The following year, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates formed a coalition of states to invade Yemen, overpower the Houthi-Saleh rebels and reinstate Hadi’s government. More recently, coalition and Houthi alliances splintered, with Yemen as the battleground for new factions.

According to the Human Rights Watch, Saudi-led coalition attacks constitute a majority of the violence in Yemen, with approximately 12 airstrikes per day. Even so, all competing forces contribute to the bloodshed. Civilian deaths and injuries clock in at 17,500 since the conflict escalated in 2015.

Civil War, COVID-19 and Crisis: Yemen is a City on Fire

The onset of the highly infectious COVID-19 set Yemen’s conflict on fire; what remains is a full-blown crisis. Amid continued violence, 24 million Yemenis – 80% of the national population – are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. COVID-19 has worsened the already scarce supply of sanitation and clean water. Health care facilities have been dramatically reduced in capacity.

Thus far, the world has deprived 12 million Yemeni children of humanitarian aid. Innocent boys and girls are fighting for survival, some of which have yet to utter their first words. Moreover, pre-COVID-19, 2 million children faced barriers to education. Now, Yemen has 7.8 million children without schooling due to nation-wide closures.

The US Role in Yemen: Two Sides of a Different Coin

In the U.S., national headlines oscillate between COVID-19 and Donald Trump’s Twitter, with little to no mention of the ongoing crisis in Yemen. Though public awareness lacks, political action has indeed transpired on Capitol Hill.

The U.S. has funneled $721 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen since 2017. In response to the pandemic, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo directed an additional $225 million in USAID funding to help the resource-stricken country.

Despite seemingly well-intended aid, the U.S. government’s support of coalition states tells a different story. A coalition powerhouse, Saudi Arabia’s authoritarian regime and aggressive military tactics clash against American pillars of democracy and peace. The Saudi-led coalition fly planes fueled by the U.S. military and drop bombs purchased in ongoing munition sales with the United States.

In fact, the U.N. Group of Eminent Experts suspected that the U.S., “may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen through arms sales and intelligence support given to the Saudi-led coalition.”

This year, Congress passed a bipartisan bill to scale back detrimental U.S. involvement in Yemen, ending the practice of the U.S. military refueling aircraft and using intelligence to support the coalition. Ultimately, President Trump vetoed the resolution, and Congress neglected to override Trump’s vote.

In an exclusive interview with The Borgen Project, Rep. Jared Huffman of California explained the significance of the Congressional statement: “I think that tells you that there is bipartisan support for distancing the United States from the military campaign from the Saudis in Yemen and for taking a more humanitarian approach.”

The Future of Fighting Against Crisis in Yemen

The crisis in Yemen presents as convoluted at best and depressing at worst. Fortunately, Huffman sheds light on the efforts unfolding within Congress, and there is a reason for optimism. Huffman declares, “There will be amendments and debates in the days ahead on the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, and I am sure there will be Yemen amendments as part of that. And so, we’ll keep trying. We’re months away from a national election and some changes that could make it possible for us to go even further.”

Hence, war wages on in Yemen as people battle each other and COVID-19. Yet, another battleground begins at the voting ballot; the upcoming U.S. elections could decide the role the government plays in Middle Eastern politics. In addition, those compelled to help Yemen can donate to reputable organizations, such as UNICEF  or Save The Children.

Maya Gonzales
Photo: Wikimedia