ALERT – Yemen devastated by an endless war | March 24, 2021

Heavy destruction in Aden in the South of Yemen. © ISNA Agency / HI

The 6-year long war in Yemen war has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. The level of destruction of infrastructure by massive bombing and shelling in populated areas, as well as the contamination by explosive devices are enormous challenges to overcome. Horrifying example of the humanitarian consequences of explosive weapons used in populated […]

The 6-year long war in Yemen war has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. The level of destruction of infrastructure by massive bombing and shelling in populated areas, as well as the contamination by explosive devices are enormous challenges to overcome.

Horrifying example of the humanitarian consequences of explosive weapons used in populated areas

The massive and repeated use of explosive weapons in populated areas – especially those with wide area effects – has exacerbated Yemen’s humanitarian crisis and will have a long-term impact in Yemen. According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021:

  • 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, which represents 66% of the entire population.
  • 16 million people who are food insecure.
  • 3.6 million people are displaced.

The disruption to the economy has inflated the cost of food. In recent months, the country has also been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and natural hazards such as flooding ad locusts.

In 6 years of war, Yemen has been devastated by the war and the extensive use of explosive weapons. Around 233,000 people died due to the conflict, some being direct victims of the violence, others dying of the indirect consequences of the conflict, such as lack of health services and clean water as health facilities and water supply systems have been largely destroyed by bombing and shelling; lack of food due to the destruction of roads making impossible to channeling goods, etc. More than 20,000 civilian deaths and injuries have been verified as a direct result of hostilities since 2015.

The conflict intensified during 2020, resulting in shocking levels of civilian suffering. By the end of October 2020, there were 47 front lines, up from 33 in January 2020. In recent weeks, violent combats have taken place in Marib forcing thousands to flee. Many families who actually live in Marib have already faced multiple displacements to flee violence’s in the last years. They are stranded in overcrowded camps, needing shelter, protection, food, water, hygiene and health.

There are reports of widespread use of landmines in several regions of the country. Almost 1,100 civilians were killed or injured by landmines or improvised explosive devices from 2018 to 2020 included. In 2020 only, at least 1,300 civilians were affected in landmine or explosive remnant of war related incidents (these incidents remain largely under-reported). The level of contamination by explosive remnants of war in Yemen is likely to be extremely high due to the intensity of the conflict over the last 6 years. Should the conflict end today, incidents linked with the use of weapons are expected to last for decades and continue to impact civilians and prevent the return of the displaced to their homes.

The 6-year war has made Yemen the world’s largest humanitarian emergency: 66 % of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. The level of destruction is staggering. NGOs face significant security and administrative constraints that considerably reduce their scope of action. Humanitarian aid is unfortunately largely underfunded as only 50% of the 3.8 billion USD required by the United Nations are so far met. States’ Donors should support lifesaving humanitarian aid in Yemen. They should also continue to put pressure on parties to the conflict to lift the obstacles that impede humanitarian access and intervention and ensure civilians are protected.” says Baptiste Chapuis, Advocacy Officer at HI.

States must support the draft international agreement against urban bombing currently being negotiated to help end the suffering.

Rise in fighting threatens to push Yemen into new levels of violence

Along with 20 humanitarian agencies in Yemen, HI is calling for an immediate nationwide ceasefire and for warring parties to return to the negotiating table. As the conflict enters its seventh year on 26 March, new offensives have ignited in Hodeidah, Taiz, Hajjah and Marib, attacks on civilians are on the rise, and the country is at imminent risk of famine.

Read the full statement here.


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