UNHCR’s Angelina Jolie Urges Yemenis ‘Deserve Same Compassion’ as Ukrainian Refugees
19:34 GMT 07.03.2022 (Updated: 21:07 GMT 07.03.2022)
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced on Sunday that its special envoy, actress Angelina Jolie, had arrived in the Yemeni port city of Aden “to help draw attention to the catastrophic consequences of the seven-year conflict on the people of Yemen.”
“She will be visiting Yemeni families, including displaced families and refugees, to hear directly from them how the conflict has ripped their lives apart,” the UNHCR statement said.
“As we continue to watch the horrors unfolding in Ukraine, and call for an immediate end to the conflict and humanitarian access, I’m here in Yemen to support people who also desperately need peace,” Jolie posted on her Instagram account on Sunday.
“The situation here is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with one civilian killed or injured every hour in 2022. An economy devastated by war, and over 20 million Yemenis depending on humanitarian assistance to survive,” Jolie wrote, adding: “If we learn anything from this shocking situation, it is that we cannot be selective about who deserves support and whose rights we defend. Everyone deserves the same compassion. The lives of civilian victims of conflict everywhere are of equal value. After seven years of war, the people of Yemen also need protection, support, and above all, peace."
The Saudi-led coalition allied with Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi has been bombing northern Yemen since early 2015, when the Houthi rebel movement seized the capital of Sana’a and forced Hadi from the country. Between bombing and blockade, the war has turned Yemen into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with nearly 400,000 killed and hunger, malnutrition and epidemic diseases endangering millions more.
However, the pace of that bombing has increased sharply in recent weeks as the Houthis launch strikes deep into Saudi Arabia and its ally, the United Arab Emirates. While the Houthi missiles have largely been intercepted with minimal casualties, the Saudi coalition enjoys almost total command of Yemeni airspace and its strikes have been devastating, killing hundreds this year.
However, Western media coverage of the attack, or of others such as the US bombing of Somalia and Israeli airstrikes against Syria, have been few and far between, being lost in a sea of stories about Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine that began on February 24.
“In total, in the week between Monday, February 21 and Sunday, February 27, Fox News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC ran almost 1,300 separate stories on the Ukraine invasion, two stories on the Syria attack, one on Somalia, and none at all on the Saudi-led war on Yemen,” MintPress News’ Alan MacLeod wrote on March 2, noting that amounts to about one new story on Ukraine every hour.
How the Western corporate media has covered the situation in Ukraine is also a part of that: numerous television reporters and correspondents from the BBC to CNN and other outlets have remarked about Ukrainian refugees in ways that betray their bias against refugees from the Middle East and other non-European peoples.
“It just occurred to me that this is the first major war between civilized nations in my lifetime,” Daily Wire journalist Michael Knowles wrote on Twitter on February 26.
“This isn't a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades,” CBS correspondent Charlie D’Agata said on live television that same day. “This is a relatively civilized, relatively European - I have to choose those words carefully, too - city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.”
The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association issued a statement condemning such framing, writing that “This type of commentary reflects the pervasive mentality in Western journalism of normalizing tragedy in parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. It dehumanizes and renders their experience with war as somehow normal and expected.”
“Newsrooms must not make comparisons that weigh the significance or imply justification of one conflict over another - civilian casualties and displacement in other countries are equally as abhorrent as they are in Ukraine,” the group added.
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