Menconi: Mass famine due to Saudi blockade of Yemen deserves our attention (column) |

Menconi: Mass famine due to Saudi blockade of Yemen deserves our attention (column)

Arn Menconi
Valley Voices

Editor’s note: Find a cited version of this column at

“It took seven years for the cholera epidemic to reach 800,000 in Haiti. It’s taken seven months to reach it in Yemen,” said Homer Venters, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights.

Every day since the blockade of Yemen by Saudi Arabia, causing the worst outbreak of famine and cholera, I have spent hours each day searching which reporters are bringing this to the forefront of the news cycle, so I may share their stories in hope that more awareness will save lives.

There was the initial shock and awe of coverage and handwringing but not the connection between the United States and Saudi one would expect from professional journalists.

A week later, it’s started to die off.

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It’s horrific for me to see the media get paid to bring attention to injustice and turn its attention to “click bait” stories such as Trump and political races for 2018 while ignoring mass genocide with the United States holding their hands. The United States is inexplicably bound to Saudi Arabia over oil, petroleum dollar financing and the sale of billions of dollars of weapons.

In March of 2015, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen when Houthi rebels forced Yemen leader President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi out of office. He fled to Saudi Arabia, where he hides, like a puppet of the Saudis, hoping that the Saudis overthrow the Houthi-led government.

The United States helps the Saudis by refueling Saudi fighter jets, selling billions of dollars of weapons and providing intelligence. Over the past 2 1/2 years, the United States has launched a missile and drones into Yemen.

The outcome is what the United Nations recently called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Here’s why, based on a population of 27.5 million people:

• 2,100 children have been killed

• Death toll is more than 10,000

• 800,000 suffering from cholera outbreaks

• 18.8 million on brink of famine

• 55 percent of medical facilities closed

• 2.5 million refugees

• 125 children die each day

• Millions do not have adequate access to health, water and sanitation services.

Think of it this way: Americans prepared for Thanksgiving last week, a messed-up myth how in 1621 our forefathers sat down to break bread with Native Americans in a symbol of two cultures coming together for the good of all mankind.

Thanksgiving is a lie just like Santa Claus bringing presents to all the good boys and girls all around the world.

We all now know it’s a myth. Our country’s history is genocide of natives and pushing them onto reservations. We continue the lying by fostering the belief that America is protecting the world from terrorism around the world.

Our forefathers fled a monarchy and an empire to start a republic that has created a state-run terrorist organization addicted to oil, finance and weapons, killing millions for a foreign policy of military interventionism.

This is not the first tragedy and won’t be the last, but it may be the worst in the shortest period since the atomic bombing of Japan.

Our leaders and media will not be the ones to bring awareness and peace to save Yemeni lives. They rarely ever do. It is up to those of us who believe ourselves loving and compassionate beings who must act with the urgency of now. By opening up our hearts and minds, Americans can stop what the United Nations says may become the biggest famine in modern history.

Pope Francis tried to warn Americans in his 2015 visit on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. I was there in the audience. An older man who was raised a Roman Catholic and now a Buddhist. He said, “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood — often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

Our donations right now can’t get to those who need them, because the aid routes are cut off. Yemenis I’ve been DMing want our outrage. We must channel it at our politicians and media to wake up before another ISIS, another al-Qaida or terrorist attacks out of self-defense occur, be it immoral or not.

Yemenis need to hear our voices. They need to believe there is hope that soon they maybe saved. Call your politicians and media and let them know that your tax dollars will not be spent on cold-blooded murder.

Fight with the conviction knowing that each day that goes by, another 125 children will die.

Arn Menconi is the former executive director of SOS Outreach, a national value-based youth development charity for disadvantaged youth, and lives in Carbondale.

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