A mother sits on the edge
of a hospital bed with her
baby daughter lying on her lap.
The air throughout the hospital
is suffocating, stifling with the
stench of filth and death.
The walls amplify and echo the
anguish of women and children,
and jets fly somewhere overhead.
But she tries to sing a lullaby
through her parched throat
beneath her grubby niqāb. The skin
and bones that make her frame
cannot sway the child for comfort.
She cannot feed her; even if her
******* could provide sustenance,
the child’s sickness would puke it
back up. She craves to cry for God
to spare her little one, but her
bloodshot, sunken eyes no longer
produce tears. All she can offer is
her lullaby, the same one she sang
to all her children. All that remains
of them and their father are fragments,
scattered throughout dirt and debris,
blown to bits a week ago by a blast
in her village. When the only one left
became sick, she started the trek to
the nearest hospital. The journey
greeted her with dust and unbearable
heat, with the agony of an empty
stomach, with a child in misery and
excreting white diarrhea. And when
she finally reached the hospital, the
doctors could not provide treatment.
The disease had progressed too far,
and they did not have the means to
save her daughter. So she sits on a
hospice bed, surrounded by other
sickly and starving bodies, singing a
lullaby. Soon the child closes her eyes
and stops breathing, a thick white
drool leaking down her cheek. Her
mother wipes it away.
by Aleksander Mielnikow (Alek the Poet)
This poem depicts a bit of the horrific circumstances that are taking place regularly in Yemen. According to the UN, Yemen is suffering the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 80% of its citizens requiring humanitarian aid. And it is only getting worse.
The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, backed by rich allies such as the United States and the United Kingdom, is committing war crimes. They are targeting innocent civilians with missiles (including some that many countries have banned the use of), and though this includes destroying hospitals and schools, it also includes peaceful villages and the encampments of 3 million displaced persons, unrelated to the Civil War that is being waged. They are targeting infrastructure (for example, gas stations and bridges) that make basic functioning arduous, if not impossible. And they are using a blockade to deny the passage of food and aid into the country. This blockade has perpetuated one of the worst cholera outbreaks ever (which is the “illness” the baby in this poem has). And it has left 20 million people facing food insecurity, with half of them being acutely food insecure. (Some are comparing this deliberate military tactic of famine to The Holodomor, the Ukranian Genocide of 1932-33).
And on top of facing starvation, succumbing to disease, or getting blown to pieces, they are also facing Covid-19 drastically limited resource, which is spreading at an alarming rate.
I titled this poem Forgotten because multiple sources that I’ve read about this crisis point out how the situation in Yemen is being largely ignored. And this ignorance will lead to the unfortunate end of millions of innocent people.
I don’t want that to happen.
In order for us to aid the Yemeni people, the conflict that is occurring needs to end. This can happen a number of ways. I will focus my part in what I can do to get the US Government (where I live) to stop supplying arms to the Saudi-led intervention. I have little influence in the political sphere, and if there’s anyone reading this who could throw a more powerful swing at it, please do. But I will let my readers know if there’s anything they can help me with, such as signing a letter/petition.
But we cannot rely on the conflict resolving when it is such a complex situation with interweaving influences and leaders who are committing or are complicit in atrocities. As such, the other thing we need to do is offer as much aid as we can. In the bio of my Instagram account, @alekthepoet, there’s a link to multiple non-profits trying to help, and each link takes you to a page that offers more information on Yemen’s situation. Please donate what you can. I cannot offer much, and yet I scrounged up some money and will donate what I can as well (I am donating to Save The Children). Each website also offers more ways in which you can help, so if you have the time please look into that and see if there’s more you can do.
Please do what you can to help the Yemen people. They don’t deserve to be forgotten by us. Please share this information and post to make sure it doesn’t happen.