Save the Children: U.S. Terrorism Designation in Yemen Threatens Children's Lives

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (January 11, 2021) – Save the Children is warning that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen will likely deepen in the coming weeks, placing thousands of children at further risk of starvation and disease, after the U.S. Government announced its decision to roll out a new terrorism designation on Ansar Allah, who are also the de facto authorities in northern Yemen. This designation could directly threaten the supply of lifesaving food, fuel and medicine in Yemen, add obstacles to the humanitarian response, as well as hamper efforts to end the conflict, at a time when new data show that millions of people in the country are edging closer to famine.

“Humanitarian actors have warned for weeks that the consequences of this decision could be catastrophic for countless children and their families in Yemen who are barely surviving,” said Janti Soeripto, President and CEO of Save the Children. “While we welcome that the U.S. intends to exempt some humanitarian efforts and critical commercial goods such as food and medicine from sanctions, they must immediately clarify how such exemptions will work in practice. And even with exemptions in place, we must be clear that these sanctions could still create serious disruptions to Yemen’s economy, which is already near collapse placing many more vulnerable families in harm’s way.”

With this new policy, the Trump Administration has effectively prohibited certain interactions with the de facto authorities in the North. Many fear that businesses, such as banks and shippers, will avoid working in Yemen for fear of violating U.S. law, resulting in widespread shortages of food, fuel and essential medicines.

This designation comes at a particularly alarming point in Yemen’s crisis. Last month, newly released data showed that nearly 50,000 people could soon be living in “famine-like conditions” across Yemen. The data also shows that more than 20,000 children are already at risk of starvation by early 2021, even without the U.S. terrorism designation.

“Nearly ten years ago, the world watched in horror as the famine in Somalia claimed more than 250,000 lives. That famine was exacerbated by delays in aid resulting from the same kind of policies that failed to prioritize humanitarian need. We should learn from history and not condemn Yemeni children and their families to the same fate,” Soeripto continued.

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