Open Letter: Dear Mayor Emanuel, Chicagoans Are Trapped In Yemen

CAIR-Chicago encourages all concerned citizens to write to public officials, especially Representatives and Senators in the U.S. Congress, and ask them to pressure the State Department to take action in Yemen. More information on contacting public official can be found here.

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of the City of Chicago
121 N LaSalle Street |
Chicago City Hall 4th Floor | Chicago, IL 60602

Dear Mayor Emanuel,

Congratulations on your recent re-election. Under your leadership the City of Chicago will continue to prove itself on the world stage. We are, more than ever, a global city, but that status comes with global responsibilities.

As our mayor you represent Chicagoans both in national and international spheres, and we trust in you to advocate for us. At this moment, dozens of Chicagoans fear for their lives as US government fails to evacuate citizens stranded in Yemen. Already American blood has been spilled as violence in Yemen escalates into civil war, yet the State Department refuses to act.

U.S. Ambassador Tom Kelly / Via Twitter: @USAmbDjibouti

INS Tarkash, evacuated 500+ people from Aden, Yemen, including American citizens. Image via Twitter: @USAmbDjibouti

The tragedies in Yemen are multiple, but must Chicagoans die in Yemen before you acknowledge them? Must our citizens wear military uniforms for their lives to matter? There are families trapped in Yemen that chose Chicago above all other cities to call their home. They are men and women who worked Chicago jobs, paid Chicago taxes, and own Chicago businesses. In Yemen there are children that were born in Chicago hospitals and went to Chicago Public Schools, and, Mayor Emanuel, you have a responsibility to speak out on their behalf.

The Red Cross has called the situation in Aden, the main southern city in Yemen “catastrophic.” Friday the UN stated that the crisis in Yemen was “getting worse by the hour.” According to The Guardian, the organization, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) said the situation was “worsening by the day”. If this were a natural disaster, like a tsunami or earthquake, wouldn’t we as Chicagoans be sending aid and helping to evacuate victims? The situation in Yemen demands that we aid those who need our assistance now.

Saleh, is a partner in a convenience store that he helps run on Chicago’s west side. Until Friday he was stuck in Aden, but he is one of the fortunate ones. His family made it to Djibouti on an Indian ship. As he recounts, the rush to board was chaotic and the voyage that followed meant hours on a shelterless deck under the blazing Arabian sun.

Bushra is 15 years old. She was born in Chicago and went to Palmer Elementary school before moving to Yemen to live with her mother. She too was lucky enough to make the voyage to Djibouti but with her mother’s visa case forwarded to Cairo, Egypt, they are stranded in Djibouti.

Saleh and Bushra are coming home, but they are leaving dozens more Chicagoans behind.

China, India, Pakistan, Russia and Somalia, have already evacuated their citizens, but like Saleh and his family, it is non-American ships and planes that have evacuated the few Americans that have been lucky. As a mayor concerned about fellow Chicagoans, you may be in a better position to argue for evacuation of US people than the federal government. Your concern would focus on human lives rather than foreign policy.

In times of strife Chicago has welcomed refugees from across the world, taking pride in our united diversity. We cannot forget that the boundaries of our city extend to include those of us abroad. Prove to your constituents that being a citizen of this great city means more than their zip code. Let “Chicagoan” be an identity that comforts us in troubled times.

Mr. Mayor, you have the ability to influence change where we, your constituents, cannot. Prove that your famous demeanor is not a weakness, but an asset that fights on our behalf. Demand that our government take action and arrange the evacuation of our citizens. Chicagoans are trapped in Yemen. They are trapped in a war-zone. Let’s bring them home.

A Proud Chicagoan



This open letter was originally published on the Chicago Monitor.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.