I’m giving up most of my column space today to introduce you to Abrar Ibrahim, a 12-year-old girl in Yemen who weighs just 28 pounds. Nothing I write can be as searing or persuasive or true as Abrar is in this photo.
Abrar is starving in part as a consequence of the American-backed Saudi Arabian war in Yemen. Members of the United States Congress are considering measures that would end our country’s support for the war. They should look at Abrar. Her emaciation reflects the reality that United States policies are contributing to the deaths of children in Yemen by the tens of thousands.
It is wrenching for me as an American to travel across this country and see the toll of my country’s actions. The most common war casualty in Yemen is not a soldier with a bullet but a child who is starving.
True, there are complex roots to the suffering in Yemen, but the United States is a partner in a war that has collapsed Yemen’s economy and kept fishermen, like Abrar’s father in the port city of Hudaydah, from going to sea to haul in their catches. So Abrar is now fighting for her life in a hospital in Aden.
American and Saudi officials think of the Yemen war as a way to check Iran. It has failed in that and has accomplished little more than leaving 12 million Yemenis on the brink of famine. Already, 85,000 children may have died. We are complicit.
Saudi and American officials say that the enemy, the Houthi rebels who govern much of the country, are oppressive and are backed by Iran. That’s true. But how do we explain to Abrar that because we want to make a point, she must starve?
The parents of starving children allowed photos to be taken because they hope that people outside their country will act differently if they understand the human cost of three years of war.
Doctors don’t know if Abrar will survive. She deserves our hopes and prayers, and an end to this shameful war. Look at Abrar, and any additional commentary seems superfluous.