CODEPINK is calling on VICE and reporter Isobel Yeung to tell the whole story about Yemen. Their recent reporting said nothing about the suffocating Saudi-led blockade!
Dear VICE and Isobel Yeung,
On April 28th, VICE released a video titled “How Children in Yemen Became Collateral Damage.” Just by reading the title, we assumed the story would cover how the Saudi-led blockade on Yemen that is systematically starving Yemeni children is being used as a bargaining chip in peace negotiations. However, the video did not include any information or mention of the blockade. We will highlight specific concerns with the reporting below, and we are asking that you accurately cover the blockade on Yemen in order to balance out your reporting on the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, as well as issue a clarification for misrepresenting the children’s rehab center shown in the video.
The video came out at a very critical point in the war. The United States recently announced a withdrawal of “offensive” support for the war and President Biden also revoked a Foreign Terrorist designation on the Houthis. US Envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking also stated in a congressional hearing that the United States has been pressuring Saudi Arabia to lift the blockade on Yemen. This hopefully signals that the parties involved in the Yemen war may come to the negotiating table soon. However, that will not happen until the blockade is lifted, according to the Houthis. Since the blockade remains a critical barrier to peace, if VICE is truly concerned with the crisis, you have the responsibility to at the very least mention the topic in your reporting.
Reporter Isobel Yeung responded to criticism by mentioning that in the video she stated that both sides have committed war crimes. Yeung did state this fact, but did not elaborate at all. Merely stating without elaborating does not equate to balanced reporting.
The most troubling aspect of the piece was when Yeung visited a rehab center for children. Yeung states vey matter of factly what the center is and what it strives to do. However, she left out very critical information. The center is funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the very country that is permanently harming children with airstrikes and starvation. There was no mention of this by the reporter, just a banner with the Saudi crest hanging in the background. In 2019, the New York Times reported on that same facility. The main psychologist that is responsible for working with the children in that facility, Mahoub al-Mekhlafi, said he received a doctorate in psychology at the American University in Cairo. However, al-Mekhlafi does not speak English and the American University in Cairo only teaches in English. He also could not have possibly received a doctorate in psychology from the university, because the American University in Cairo has no such doctoral program.
This piece was a combination of unbalanced and irresponsible reporting that must be corrected. We ask that you make clarifying statements regarding the children’s center shown in the video as well as release an equally investigative report on the effects of the Saudi-led blockade. We look forward to seeing how you will carry these demands out.