By Lydia O’Kane
The civil war in Yemen has been described as the world’s forgotten conflict and shows no signs of abating five years on from the outbreak of hostilities, when Iran backed Houthi Shiite Muslim rebels took over the capital Sanaa.
Houthi rebels control large swathes of northern Yemen, and a Saudi-led coalition, allied with the internationally recognized government led by Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, continues to fight them.
Trafficking of arms
On Wednesday, the U.S Navy confirmed that one of its warships seized, a “significant cache” of missile parts headed to rebels in Yemen. The Pentagon suspects the weapons are linked to Iran.
This is not the first time weapons have been discovered which were bound for Yemen. On a number of occasions between 2015 and 2016, the U.S. seized suspected Iranian weapons during similar ship inspections.
Speaking to Vatican Radio, the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Bishop Paul Hinder, noted that “there are too many people profiting from this war…by the trafficking of arms, that is a big part of the whole problem.”
Dialogue towards conflict resolution
Another problem the Bishop pointed out, is that none of the parties concerned in this conflict want to be seen to be losing face and that becomes a big issue during a process of negotiation, he said.
Despite efforts to crackdown on weapons shipments on the part of the international community, Bishop Hinder stressed that efforts must also be made to get those involved around the negotiating table.
“We do not know who is really willing to get to an understanding and to stop this senseless war and I think if there is not the pressure from the international community, and the UN, as far as they can do it. If there is not this pressure of (from) outside it will be difficult to get the people around the table.”
Apart from this being a forgotten war, it is also a conflict that has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR the civil war has forced more than 4.3 million people to leave their homes. An estimated 80 per cent of the population, around 24 million people desperately require humanitarian assistance.
Speaking about the intense suffering that the people of Yemen have endured over the last number of years, the Bishop said that the longer this conflict goes on, the more it has the effect that people are becoming immune to it. “So when we speak of Yemen, the forgotten war it has also to do with it’s too far away; it is not in the focus of the interest of the world,” he said.