World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley was on a recent visit to a hospital in Yemen. The place overflowed with the injured, the dying and the starving. He tried to cheer things up in the gloomy surroundings but realised it was futile. Death hung heavy over the place like it was in the rest of the country. Still wanting to put a positive spin on the visit, he decided to try again when he noticed the tiny, fleshless legs of a child sticking out of a blanket in the packed hospital. His attempt to bring a smile on the malnourished faces with some clearly ill-timed humour was a joke. It was the wrong place and time. Recounting the incident, Beasley said: “It was like tickling a ghost.” This sums up Yemen’s plight. A ghost of a country where people scrounge for food. Their spirits dead within them, the life being sucked out of their bodies. Their living hell began when the Houthis took over the country three years ago after ousting the Yemeni government.
The Arab intervention to reinstate the Yemeni government has been a success in the south of the country. Gains have been made in the north and the strategic port city of Hodeidah is within sight. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are pushing back against Iranian interference in the region with their military and humanitarian campaign in Yemen. What’s left of civil life has been shredded by this sickening war wrought upon the people by the Houthis and Tehran that has made them less human, less flesh and bone, less heart and soul. Once a hub of civilisation, Yemen now resembles a wasteland, and the Houthis have a chance to be redeem themselves by joining talks to end this ghastly war. If they miss this opportunity, they risk being branded demons for life.