The Slatest

American Citizens Seem to Have Been Abandoned Amid Yemen’s Civil War

A car fleeing the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

Mohamed al-Sayaghi/TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY/Reuters

A Yemeni-American citizen was killed in the Yemeni city of Aden this week, Al Jazeera reports per the man’s family, while other Americans are wondering why the State Department has not yet aided their evacuation from the midst of the country’s civil war. From Al Jazeera:

Jamal al-Labani, a father of three, from Oakland, California, was returning home from mosque on Tuesday evening with his 14-year-old Yemeni nephew when both were hit by mortar shelling, according to his cousin Mohammed Alazzani, who spoke to Al Jazeera from the San Francisco Bay Area. Both died as a result of injuries sustained.

Deadly conflict between a number of factions—including troops loyal to the former government, the Houthi rebels who overthrew that government, Saudi air forces attacking the Houthis, and the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula group—has become constant in Yemen. Countries including Russia and Turkey have evacuated their citizens from the country, but as of yet the State Department (which is an experienced facilitator of evacuations) has only issued a travel warning and recommended that citizens flee by private means if possible. (Embassy staff were evacuated Feb. 11.) Al Jazeera and the Guardian spoke to a number of Yemeni-Americans wondering why the U.S. is hesitating to follow Russia and Turkey’s lead despite having three Navy ships in nearby waters. From the Guardian:

Several Americans have travelled from the capital city of Sana’a to Aden, not far from the US navy’s three ships, in the hope of rescue. One of them is Nasser Summer, a 20-year-old senior at Sarah Lawrence College who had travelled to Yemen to visit family. Summer, who recently fled Sana’a, said the port was closed and under a blockade by US ally Saudi Arabia.

“It’s very dangerous. The house is surrounded by air strikes,” Summer said by phone. She estimated perhaps 300 Americans are, like her and her family, stranded in Yemen. The State Department said it cannot estimate how many Americans are in Yemen.

Al-Labani, the man who was killed, left the United States for Yemen approximately two months ago “out of concern for family members living there,” Al Jazeera says, including his wife and 2-year-old daughter, who now survive him.