As the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen continue and the fighting on the ground intensifies, US citizens stuck in Yemen have lashed out at Washington for ignoring their pleas for help as they try to leave the war-torn country.
Aerial bombardment and street battles have become a daily reality
for people in Yemen. “We hear a few bombings a day. It’s very
scary right now,” Arwa Al-Iraine, a US citizen trapped in
Yemen told RT.
“Nobody will help us evacuate. The reply [of the US
government] was an automated message that they do not have any
evacuation plans. Basically we are left on our own.”
Another US citizen Shamsan Mansoob stranded in the
strife-stricken country hit out at Washington, saying that
“we never heard anything from them.” He told RT that his
family – a pregnant wife and his son – couldn’t even leave the
war zone as “there is no gas at the stations.”
Hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of casualties as
scores of people are killed every day. On Wednesday, the World
Health Organization (WHO) said that between March 19 and April 6,
643 people had died as a result of the violence in Yemen. These
figures include 74 children.
Two weeks ago, the first American citizen was killed in the
conflict between Houthi rebels and the government forces.
“He was trapped there for over three weeks, waiting for
assistance to leave the country, but unfortunately after the
airports of the capital Sanaa and Aden were closed, he was stuck
there with other people,” Mohammed Alazzani, 27, the cousin
of the killed American Jamal al Labani, told RT.
Labani was killed by shrapnel from tank fire as he was returning
from a mosque, Alazzani said, adding that he died instantly.
These accounts are among dozens from those who are still stranded
in the conflict zone.
“Hundreds of US families are actually stuck in Yemen, and
they are asking for evacuation. If there is no concrete chance of
evacuation from the State Department, they should use other
countries,” Summer Nasser, an activist and freelance author,
“The airstrikes haven’t been the biggest problem lately, it’s
more of the shooting done by the army itself – like the shelling
around Aden port, there have been people killed there. I do know
that there were two airstrikes on a manufacturing company on the
outskirts of Aden, it was manufacturing ammunition,” he
Human rights groups have launched an online initiative to
help US citizens remaining in Yemen. So far over 500 American
have registered on the website.
One of the campaigners seeking assistance from Washington, Abed
Ayoub, who is the legal and policy director of the American-Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee, said that “we were surprised
by the diversity of US citizens [in Yemen]”.
On Thursday, human rights groups filed a lawsuit against the
Obama administration for failing to provide the stranded citizens
“We’re hoping that the State Department takes action,
fulfills its obligation and brings the US citizens home,”
Ayoub told RT. “Now that the pressure is being put on the
State Department, it is in position where its forced to act, it
needs to act. It should not have gone to the point that we need
to file a lawsuit…”
“The US government to date has not done anything to evacuate
US citizens, after they themselves evacuated the embassy
employees and personnel out of Yemen back in February,”
Jenifer Wicks, a representative of the Council on
American-Islamic relations told RT.
“We’ve made every effort to bring this issue to their
attention and my understanding from reviewing press-conferences
and other releases from the Department of State; they have
basically said ‘good luck’.”
The US, which is providing logistical support for the Saudi
air-strike campaign, has previously stated that there are “no
government-sponsored plans” to evacuate US citizens from
On Thursday, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the
department is “aware of some American citizens who remain in
“We remain in contact, through a variety of means, to advise
American citizens in Yemen about the opportunities that present
themselves for people who leave if they choose,” Rathke
While the US has not sought to evacuate its citizens, several
flights have been made from Moscow to help Russians leave from
the Sanaa international airport.
They also evacuated citizens of several other states, among them
Belarusians, Poles, Ukrainians, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. On Tuesday,
India, who is leading the rescues efforts, evacuated over 200
foreigners from Yemen, in addition to its nationals who had been
helped to safety earlier.
“India took out over 4,000 of their nationals in three days.
If India can do it, why can’t the US?” questioned Ayoub.