For 17 days and counting, I have been on hunger strike protesting the blockade that is starving hundreds of thousands of Yemenis. Call on Sec. Blinken to end the blockade.
My name is Iman, and I am entering the 17th day of my hunger strike in Washington, D.C. I’m Yemeni American, and for years I have watched helplessly as a Saudi-led coalition — backed by the U.S. — has blocked food and basic necessities from reaching my family and my people as part of an illegal war, creating one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. My, and Yemeni Liberation Movement’s only demand is that President Biden calls for an end to the blockade, but his administration won’t even admit the blockade is happening.
At least 400,000 Yemeni children under the age of 5 could die of starvation this year without urgent intervention, according to four United Nations agencies. After days without food, I have lost much of my short-term memory. Day in and day out, I feel the physical burden of starvation that my people have endured for so long, you can watch my reflections here. On Monday, the spokesperson for the state department said the critical port of Hodeidah “remains open and commercial imports of food and other commodities are moving through the port at normal rates.” That’s just not true. The blockading of Yemen’s most important port is what is driving starvation.
The blockade on Yemen also prevents fuel from entering the country. A key to survival in any war zone, fuel heats stoves, powers engines, lights buildings, and allows for the foundation of an economy to be rebuilt. Food remains at ports, unable to be transported to towns and villages where starvation is rampant. Without fuel, Yemen will bleed dry until no blood remains. Urgent action is needed now. Call on Secretary Blinken to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led blockade as well as a permanent end to it by Saudi Arabia.
As I write this, my body is breaking itself down to keep me alive. Still, it doesn’t compare to the forced starvation being experienced by people in Yemen. Ending U.S. support for the blockade will single-handedly provide relief and restore hope for millions of Yemenis whose lives hang in the balance.