ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress to End the US-Backed War in Yemen
March 15, 2018
Mokhtar Alkhanshali / MoveOn.org & Mokha Foundation
For three years, the US has been providing military support to a Saudi-led war in Yemen that has has only escalated and led to one of the worst humanitarian situations in the world. Over 42,000 people have been harmed, and over 18 million people in Yemen require humanitarian aid. But there is hope. Senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, and Chris Murphy are calling on Congress to exert its constitutional authority and end this inhumane destruction of millions of lives for geopolitical games. A vote is imminent.
ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress
To End the US-Backed War in Yemen
Mokhtar Alkhanshali / MoveOn.org & Mokha Foundation
PETITION TO US CONGRESS: Halt the War in Yemen
End US military support of inhumane attacks in Yemen led by the Saudi coalition. The time to act is now -- millions of lives are at risk from famine and preventable diseases. Support the bipartisan resolution from Senators Sanders, Lee, and Murphy to end this now.
Sign Mokhtar's Petition
For three years, the US has been providing military support to a Saudi-led war in Yemen that has has only escalated and led to one of the worst humanitarian situations in the world. Over 42,000 people have been harmed, and over 18 million people in Yemen require humanitarian aid. 
But there is hope.
Right now, Senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, and Chris Murphy are calling on Congress to exert its constitutional authority and end this inhumane destruction of millions of lives for geopolitical games. Because the bipartisan resolution is grounded in the War Powers Act, it must be brought to a floor vote in just a few days. The vote could happen this week!
There isn't a family in Yemen that hasn't been affected by this war, including my own family. We've lost family members to airstrikes and through mortar attacks. I also have family members who are stuck in countries such as Djibouti or in cities such as Cairo and Amman and who can't even come to the US because of visa restrictions and the current Muslim Ban.
It's a concept many people from impacted majority-Muslim countries know well: being bombed and banned.
Some of you may already know me as the Monk of Mokha (it's the title of the best-selling book by Dave Eggers, and it's about my experience).  But for those who don't: A few years ago, I left California to visit my ancestral home, Yemen, and to start a coffee business -- an equitable and sustainable business to support farmers and to bridge the divide between cultures through something that everyone loves.
But I ended up in the middle of a war.
On March 26, 2015, while in Sana'a, the Yemeni capital, I woke up to loud explosions all around me. I went out to see what was going on and saw what looked like laser beams being shot in the sky.
The Saudi government had begun a military campaign against Yemen -- supported by our government and funded by our tax dollars.
As an American, I felt ashamed, and I felt angry because I knew that those bombs weren't made in Saudi Arabia. They were made in the US When I found out that the logistical supports for these attacks were also provided by our government, it made me even more angry.
The airstrikes were violent and sporadic. I heard the sounds of men, women, and children crying, the earth shaking. I didn't know what would happen the next day.
I came home to California -- but I still run my business and I go back every year to work with my farmers. And it's still a risk to go back. Congress must see the American people's fierce opposition to an immoral and illegal war being fought in our name and see strong support for legislation that would bring this US war in Yemen to an end.
We have a small window to change this -- there are only a few days left before the legislation goes to a vote. Click here to sign the petition to let your senators know that US support of this war is unacceptable.
ACTION: End US military support of inhumane attacks in Yemen led by the Saudi coalition. The time to act is now -- millions of lives are at risk from famine and preventable diseases. Support the bipartisan resolution from Senators Sanders, Lee, and Murphy to end this now. Sign Mokhtar's petition.
Thanks for adding your voice to this fight.
Mokhtar Alkhanshali, Mokha Foundation
1."Yemen conflict: How bad is the humanitarian crisis?" BBC, March 28, 2017
2. "'The Monk of Mokha,' by Dave Eggers," SFGate, January 25, 2018
Yemen Conflict: How Bad is the Humanitarian Crisis?
(March 28, 2017) -- Two years of conflict have devastated Yemen, left 18 million people in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance and created the largest food security emergency in the world.
That was the frank assessment by a senior UN aid official back in August 2015, and one that was repeated by Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Stephen O'Brien in a statement to the UN Security Council in October 2016.
Saudi-led air strikes have destroyed parts of Sanaa's Old City, a Unesco World Heritage Site
The UN says more than 7,600 people -- mostly civilians -- have been killed and close to 42,000 others injured since the conflict between forces loyal to exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement escalated in March 2015.
Fighting on the ground and air strikes on rebel-held areas by a Saudi-led coalition backed by the US and UK have displaced more than three million people.
And seven million people do not know where their next meal might come from.
The World Food Programme's executive director, Ertharin Cousin, warned in March 2017 that aid workers faced a "race against time" to prevent a famine, adding: "We have about three months of food stored inside the country."
Yemen was already struggling
Yemen has been plagued by years of instability, poor governance, lack of rule of law, under-development, environmental decline and widespread poverty.
More than half-a-million children are severely malnourished in Yemen.
Before 2015, almost half of all Yemenis lived below the poverty line, two-thirds of youths were unemployed, and social services were on the verge of collapse.
Almost 16 million people were in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.
Civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence
The UN recorded 13,045 civilian casualties, including 4,773 killed, between 26 March 2015, when the coalition air campaign began, and 26 March 2017.
The third city of Taizz has been under siege by rebel forces for more than a year.
Just under half of Yemen's population is under 18 and more than 1,200 children are among the dead.
A report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, in August 2016 laid out a number of serious allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law committed by all sides.
They included attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure; the use of landmines and cluster bombs; sniper and drone attacks against civilians; detentions; targeted killings; the recruitment and use of children in hostilities; and forced evictions and displacement.
Two thirds of Yemenis need aid
As of March 2017, an estimated 18.8 million people -- 69% of Yemen's population -- needed some kind of humanitarian or protection assistance, according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). That includes 10.3 million in acute need, who urgently require immediate, life-saving assistance in at least one sector.
Some 3.3 million people have been displaced since March 2015. As of January 2017, more than 2 million remained displaced -- more than six times the number recorded at the end of 2014 -- and one million had returned to their homes. An additional 180,000 have fled the country.
The government says there are also between 1.7 and two million refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Yemen, 460,000 of whom need humanitarian assistance.
An estimated 17 million people are considered food insecure and 6.8 million severely food insecure -- 3 million more than in January 2017.
About 3.3 million children and pregnant or breast-feeding women are acutely malnourished, including 462,000 children under five who face severe acute malnutrition. That represents a 57% increase since late 2015 and threatens the lives and life-long prospects of those affected, according to the UN.
The World Food Programme has classified seven of Yemen's 22 provinces as being at "emergency" level -- one step below famine on the five-point Integrated Food Security Phase Classification scale. Ten provinces are at "crisis" level.
The conflict and import restrictions have made it difficult for millions to afford food
Yemen usually imports more than 90% of staple food. But a naval embargo imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, fighting around the government-controlled port of Aden and air strikes on the rebel-held port of Hudaydah, have severely reduced imports since 2015.
A lack of fuel, coupled with insecurity and damage to markets and roads, have also prevented supplies from being distributed.
Basic commodity prices are on average 30 to 50% higher than before the conflict, while purchasing power has been substantially reduced because of dwindling livelihoods.
The World Bank estimates that the poverty rate has doubled to 62%, with public sector salaries -- on which about 30% of the population depend -- paid only irregularly.
Millions lack access to safe drinking water or sanitation
The restrictions on imports of fuel -- essential for maintaining the water supply -- combined with damage to pumps and sewage treatment facilities, also mean that 14.4 million people now lack access to safe drinking water or sanitation, including 8.2 million who are in acute need.
People have been forced to rely on untreated water supplies and unprotected wells, placing them at risk of life-threatening illnesses. An outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea was declared in October. As of March 2017, a total of 22,181 suspected cases of cholera and 103 associated deaths had been reported.
Those affected by the outbreak, and the wider conflict, have struggled to get medical help. An estimated 14.8 million people lack access to basic healthcare, with 8.8 million living in severely affected areas. Only 45% of the 3,500 health facilities surveyed by the World Health Organization in November were fully functioning, and even they faced severe medicine, equipment and staff shortages.
As of October 2016, at least 274 health facilities had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict. Thirteen health workers have meanwhile been killed and 31 injured.
Medecins Sans Frontieres says the Abs hospital in Hajja was hit in an air strike in August
Treatments for chronically ill patients are increasingly unavailable due to import difficulties, rising prices or lack of health personnel. Mothers and young children are also at particular risk.
The conflict has also taken a toll on education. About 2 million children are out of school. More than 1,600 schools are currently unfit for use due to damage, presence of displaced people or occupation by combatants, and some two million children are out of school.
Aid organisations are struggling to help
More than 70 humanitarian organisations have been working to help those in need. However, access constraints, damaged infrastructure and unreliable access to fuel, together with a lack of funding, have hampered their efforts.
As of March 2017, the UN's appeal for $2.1 billion (£1.7 billion) to allow it to assist 12 million people in Yemen was only 7% funded.
'The Monk of Mokha,' by Dave Eggers
Reviewed by Gabriel Thompson / San Francisco Chronicle
(January 25, 2018) – In the spring of 2015, news outlets ran a story about a 26-year-old, raised in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, who had fled Yemen on a skiff, crossing the Red Sea with little more than two suitcases filled with rare coffee beans.
The young man, Mokhtar Alkhanshali, had roamed the remote hillsides of his ancestral homeland, on a quixotic mission to bring Yemeni coffee -- then considered mediocre -- to the world. "These samples have survived rockets and mortars and pirates," he told a Bay Area television station. "It really feels like I was in some sort of action adventure novel."
This was the sort of brief news story that raised far more questions than it answered; one person who wanted to know more was Dave Eggers. Not long after, he and Alkhanshali met up at Blue Bottle Coffee in Oakland's Jack London Square.
Alkhanshali stepped inside and brought out a cup of Ethiopian coffee. Wait for it to cool or the heat will hide the flavor, he instructed Eggers. Thus began the author's apprenticeship into the intricacies of coffee, Yemen and much more, guided by Alkhanshali, a thoroughly winning entrepreneur whose story, by turns hilarious and harrowing, is chronicled in "The Monk of Mokha."
Alkhanshali is a bundle of energy -- vibrate is the word Eggers uses throughout the book. Where he should place that energy is his central struggle. As a kid, home was a small apartment on Polk Street, nestled between two porn shops, where he shared a room with five younger siblings.
Alkhanshali grows up quickly but never turns hard, is bright but doesn't take to school. He sells cars, loads produce onto trucks, and works as a doorman at the Infinity, a pair of luxury high-rises in the South of Market neighborhood, where he must hop from his chair to open the door for professional athletes and tech executives.
The job is pointless: He could press a nearby button to open the doors. But his office title is "lobby ambassador," and so he spends his days moving from the desk to the door, a diplomat where the stakes couldn't possibly be lower.
His life changes with a friend's text message. "Across the street there's a statue of a Yemeni dude drinking a big cup of coffee." Alkhanshali checks out the bronze, erected in a plaza near the Infinity.
The statue is the logo of Hills Bros., the coffee company founded in San Francisco in the 1890s, and it fires his imagination. At home, his mom is incredulous. "Yemenis basically invented coffee. You didn't know this?"
Alkhanshali's vibrations intensify, and now they find a purpose. He wanders San Francisco with rolled-up sheets of paper that outline his plan to return Yemeni coffee to greatness. He dreams of supporting the descendants of the small farmers who roasted the world's first coffee beans, who have since been displaced by their counterparts in Guatemala, Java and Brazil . . . .
[You can read the full article online.]
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.