The forgotten war in Yemen: the country has been in almost eight years of civil conflict, humanitarian crisis and regional escalation

US aid cut hits Yemen 0:54 (CNN Spanish) — As the civil war in Syria spread across the region, as the United States tried one last time to win in Afghanistan, and as separatists rose with the Russian support in eastern Ukraine, a direct antecedent to the current invasion, at the end of 2014 another conflict broke out in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. That civil war of regional scope still continues, almost eight years later, in the shadow of these other conflicts and almost in the background, having already unleashed a humanitarian crisis in the country that does not seem to be close to ending. But how did it start, who’s up against it, and why does it matter? Houthi fighters monitor the reopening of a road in Saada, north of Sana’a, on February 16, 2010, following a truce between rebels and government forces. (Credit: AFP via Getty Images) Yemen is located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, with coastlines on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and borders Saudi Arabia and Oman. With a population of about 30 million, where Sunni Islam predominates, Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East, according to the World Bank. The start of the civil war in Yemen For much of the 20th and 21st centuries the country was plagued by political instability and violence, and from the 2000s the situation worsened first with the presence of al Qaeda cells—the so-called al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which prompted a military operation with US drones—and then with the uprising of the Houthis, a Shia minority from the north of the country who demanded more representation in the Sunni-led government in 2014. A tank from the Yemen’s army moves to take a position in Saada, north of Sana’a, during clashes with Houthi rebels on February 11, 2010. (Credit: AFP via Getty Images) The Houthis staged a series of protests against the president of Yemen, Abdurabu Hadi, in mid-2014, which escalated into violence. And in January 2015, rebels seized the presidential palace in the capital, Sana’a, forcing Yemen’s internationally recognized and US-backed government to move to Aden. Next, a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia intervened militarily on behalf of the Yemeni government and against the Houthis, who receive support from Iran. In addition, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues its operations, constituting a third faction. The war in Yemen has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and is seen as both a civil conflict, which has almost disintegrated the country, and a major confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It certainly transcended borders and became a regional conflict, with attacks launched by the Houthis against targets in Saudi Arabia, and constant bombing of Houthi-controlled territory by the Arab coalition, of which the United Arab Emirates is also a part, which have caused enormous suffering to the civilian population. Smoke rises following a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on May 11, 2015, in the capital Sana’a. (Credit: MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images) The conflict in Yemen today The war, at a standstill, continues today and in January at least 67 people were killed in a Saudi-led coalition bombing of a detention center in the town Saada, Save the Children spokesman Amjad Yamin told CNN. The bombardment came after the Houthis officially claimed responsibility for an attack in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, that left three dead a week earlier, the Saudi state-run Al-Ekhbariya news agency said. But although the year began with violence, in April the parties agreed to a nationwide ceasefire —the first since 2016—, mediated by the United Nations and the United States, which will allow the supply of fuel and humanitarian aid to the regions controlled by Houthis. . The truce will last two months, with the possibility of being extended, and has been welcomed by Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is the most important peace initiative since the start of the war in 2014. Yemen: Two-week ceasefire due to coronavirus 0:34 The cost of the war According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED, for its acronym in English), more than 150,000 people have died as a result of the conflict since 2015, including 14,500 civilians. Although the ACLED records a downward trend in violence in recent years, levels remain high. The humanitarian crisis, on the other hand, is unparalleled. According to the UN World Food Program (WFP), an estimated 20 million people in Yemen are starving and suffering from malnutrition, out of a total population of 30 million. The general situation in the country has become more complex with the arrival of covid-19, which put more pressure on the health system. In addition, about 4 million people have become internally displaced, says the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Unocha). “Although Yemen had pre-existing vulnerabilities, the protracted nature of the conflict has led to economic collapse, increased poverty and the breakdown of national social protection systems and community safety nets,” says Unocha. With reporting by Hakim Almasmar, Judith Vonberg, Nima Elbagir, Ryan Browne, Nadeen Ebrahim, Nada Altaher, Bianca Britton, Celine Alkhaldi, Mostafa Salem, and Lianne Kolirin.