Yemen has been engulfed in civil, and regional, war since September 2014; in the West it is often called a hidden or forgotten war, being so far from the minds of the major powers and media. The war has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, with the biggest ever cholera epidemic (nearly a million suspected cases since March 2017 according to the Red Cross) and a famine that threatens 70% of Yemen’s 30 million people.
All this seems barely to touch our consciences. The heavy human toll — now higher than the 10,000 victims, half of them thought to be civilians, estimated by the UN in January 2017 — has failed to put enough pressure on the belligerents to halt the fighting, in a war driven by regional actors (1). The coalition led by Saudi Arabia, supported by often Salafist local militias, militants from Yemen’s Southern Movement and supporters of President Abdu Rabu Mansur Hadi (who is recognised by most foreign governments), is fighting an alliance of Houthi rebels and supporters of Hadi’s predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since hostilities began (see Yemen timeline), neither side has respected international conventions, civilian life, infrastructure or historical heritage; and both sides have prevented journalists and humanitarian organisations from working in the country.