Starvation, disease and death of loved ones are an everyday reality for the impoverished country of Yemen; due to the Saudi-led bombings, blockade on supplies and aid, and US-imposed sanctions, unilaterally has plunged an entire nation into darkness.
The blockade on food and medicine has resulted in innumerable deaths by diseases that are treatable, but are left untreated because medicine is included in that blockade, and Yemen ran out of medicine many months ago – adding to the needless suffering and deaths of both the young and old – by way of treatable diseases such as liver, heart, lung, diabetes and cancers.
Because of the bombing of hospitals, clinics and care facilities, people are dying in greatly increased numbers from lack of medical treatment; victims suffering injuries from the attacks on civilians are unable to find doctors to treat their wounds, resulting in additional loss of innocent lives that could have been saved if the Geneva Convention “rules of war” were being respected by Saudi Arabia – and most importantly enforced by the United Nations.
The destruction of essential services it is not just happening to medical buildings. The Saudi-coalition airstrike targets have included a vast majority of Yemen’s electrical stations, food distribution facilities, farms, livestock, schools and busy markets, even homes for the disabled and elderly.
The game of peace talks in Kuwait came to an end this month – with no peace in sight for the helpless families. The Saudi’s are surely feeling even more emboldened by the UN’s lack of action, and acceptance of their slaughtering thousands of Yemeni women and children, because according to witnesses airstrikes appear to have increased in the past few days.
There are a handful of humanitarian groups managing to deliver life-saving food, medicine, warm clothing, and even school supplies and gifts for children, and always a warm smile and compassionate companionship – while giving hope to parents and joy to children who are suffering in ways most of us cannot even imagine what it would be like, if we had to watch our children suffer and die in the ways of Yemeni parents.
For those who are aware of our fundraising campaign Colour of War, you will be familiar with the Mona Relief Charity’s dedicated volunteers, who are out there risking their lives to deliver life-saving aid to the Yemeni families and orphans living between a sudden death by bombing, and a slow, agonizing death by starvation.
Mona Relief was founded by Yemeni journalist and activist, Fatik Al-Rodaini, and London-based humanitarian, Dr. R S Karim. The two had connected on Twitter social media last year (2015), and their mutual concern for the Yemeni people brought them together under one cause – to save Yemen lives.
Recently Dr. Karim graciously granted me an interview, which we conducted using emails, phone and messaging.
Alistair: I can see by your activity in defending the rights of the Yemeni people goes beyond your vocal defense, as well you are actively involved in providing humanitarian aid within the country itself. Can you tell us what first caught your attention in regards to the ongoing civil unrest in Yemen, leading to the Yemenis current demand for democracy?
Dr. Karim: Firstly anyone who is under the misconception that Yemen was not a democratic sovereign nation before now is sadly mistaken, the Saudi and allies interest in Yemen is certainly not rooted in altruism or a desire to promote democratic ideals.
On the contrary, it is the application of a long-standing geopolitical strategy to control international trade through the Bab el Mandab Strait this also allows the Saudi oil exports to the world without having to depend on the Strait of Hormuz which is under Iranian control.
This also automatically, blocks the expansion of Chinese economic influence in both the Middle East and Africa. For these reasons, the coalition has a keen interest in both Yemen and Somalia, desperate to maintain chaos in those countries so as to prevent stable, nationalist leaders from emerging. In so doing, This is a form of imperialist aggression, interested only in maintaining and expanding the empire of chaos. This war has many facets to it.
What caught my initial attention was the total Humanitarian blockade placed on Yemen, which not only goes against the grain of humanity but it was specifically designed as a weapon of war to bring the people of Yemen to their knees and succumb to their new masters.
Alistair: I am going to pause for a moment to look at one of your videos showing the efforts of Mona Relief volunteers helping to deliver humanitarian aid inside Yemen.
Alistair: Please continue Dr. Karim.
Dr. Karim: Basically, this was a war of attrition on an entire people who never did anything to start this war in the first place. Secondly this war was also designed to punish and or get rid of the Zaidi Shia and introduce the Salafi doctrine as part of the Saudi total control of Yemen.
Alistair: Thank you for explaining the situation in simple terms. Having experienced the effect of war on civilians in your career with the United Nations, in your opinion, what is the greatest threat to the Yemenis if Saudi Arabia continues to besiege their small country?
Dr. Karim: We are all seeing the effects of war on Yemen, this is no longer a threat it is now reality. The Saudis are playing a double game, on the one hand bombing Yemen and killing innocent civilians and on the other hand coming to the negotiating table.
I am not optimistic about the positive outcome of any peace talks and the sincerity of the Saudis when it comes to putting an end to the war in Yemen, when the Saudis are continuously violating any and all ceasefires, while Yemen falls into a deep abyss of poverty, disease and hopelessness.
Alistair: Do you have an opinion regarding the rules of war being broken by the Saudi attacks on civilians, medical and heritage buildings, and the insuring blockade of humanitarian aid and essential supplies?
Dr. Karim: Personally, I do have very strong opinions, but as the Co-Founder of Mona Relief, one of the very few active organizations delivering critical aid to the people of Yemen, my job is to look at the need and not the cause, so I tend to keep the two separate, however sometimes my frustrations tend to spill over, which is not a very good thing.
The world should be outraged at the atrocities carried out in Yemen in the name of democracy; the world should be outraged at the images of butchered children; the world should be outraged at the images of helpless mothers and the frail elderly; the world should be outraged at the blockade and senseless killing period!
Instead, the world is fed a “spin” version of the facts, under the banner of political righteousness. A humanitarian blockade is carried out under the banner of political restoration and civilians are being murdered under the banner of democracy! 
Alistair: I understand you are involved with a committee appealing to the UN to help stop the war crimes being committed by the Saudi coalition attacks, could you please tell us if the group has made any progress?
Dr. Karim: The progress is ongoing, cases are being prepared for filing at the ICC, and facts are being gathered. International human rights lawyers are hard at work to ensure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
Alistair: That is a bit of encouraging news. I recently read on your Twitter timeline that you attended a protest in London, can share with us the intention of the protest, and who you were hoping to reach?
Dr. Karim: The protests were organized by Human Rights for Yemen and Sheba for Human rights, my attendance was a show of solidarity for the people of Yemen. The goal is always two-fold, to get the message across as loudly as possible, and to educate the public on the facts.
Alistair: Do you feel your goal was achieved?
Dr. Karim: It is my conviction that the goal was achieved, but what they do with the information is anybody’s guess.
Alistair: Can you suggest how Canadians could assist on behalf of the Yemenis? Perhaps a United Nations department contact, we can send a petition signed from Canadians, expressing our concerns and support of ending the county’s blockade.
Dr. Karim: Your blog does a wonderful job of educating people on the facts, we need more people like you who stand up for what is right. People need to be armed with the facts and people need to come together and make some loud noises in order for the world to stop and listen.
Always remember that people power is always greater than people in power! The past cannot be changed but the future still remains within our power to make – we can all make it count!
Alistair: Thank you Dr. Karim, your works have certainly been a great source of encouragement for me, that one voice can make a difference.
I realize that my next question is off topic, however, one of the subjects my news blog focuses our research on is the crisis of child marriages worldwide. Yemen has the second highest number of children married by the age of eleven. It appears to me, that the reason is not solely attributed to a matter of religious belief or tradition, but more as a result of poverty and lack of education regarding the dangers of a pregnancy in a physically undeveloped child.
Dr. Karim: As long as a dowry system exists, child marriages will exist, and Yemen is no exception. The one answer to it, is more education for girls and women. There is a shocking statistic that one in three girls are married before the age of eighteen in developing countries. Strict laws should be introduced by governments and education should be primary.
We all should strive for a world where women live in dignity, have the ability to make choices, and should be accorded with equal opportunities.
Alistair: Thank you Dr. Karim, that would be an important factor to acknowledge during the process of educating families.
Can you tell us your opinion Dr. Karim, when the Saudi invasion eventually ends, and Yemen borders are opened again – do you see a solution, or approach that outside humanitarian workers and Yemeni organizations can use to journey into the outer villages and educate families on the dangers to the child bride?
Dr. Karim: This is when the real work would have to begin, in 16 months of war, Yemen has been set back 50 years. In order to be able to go to villages, the completely destroyed infrastructure will have to be rebuilt.
In order to educate people, schools and other facilities will have to be rebuilt. Now that Yemen is on the map, albeit for all the wrong reasons, help will be available when all the smoke is cleared. There are always temporary solutions and alternatives available, but they cannot go hand in hand with war and bad politics – in order to do that synergy is essential.
Alistair: Thank you so much for your time Dr. Karim, are there any other thoughts you could share with my North American readers?
Dr. Karim: Educate yourselves about the war in Yemen, and by that I don’t mean using what the media feeds you, but learn the facts of who’s who. That would be half the battle won, and the other half is to stand up and do the right thing.
The power to change things is always within a person – use it!
Alistair: I look forward to following your advocacy efforts Dr. Karim, and wish you the best in your endeavours to ensure UN’s protection of the Yemenis.
Dr. Karim: Thank you.
Alistair: I will wrap this article up with an additional video showing the works of Mona Relief Charity inside war-torn Yemen.
Send inquiries and request to re-blog article to Alistair.Reign@Gmail.com, thank you.