Category Archives: Yemen

Yemen’s humanitarian crisis growing as economy collapses: UN

A woman cooks inside a tent at a temporary camp for people displaced by the conflict, which has been inundated after heavy rains, in Yemen’s southwestern province of Taiz [File: Ahmad Al-Bash/AFP]

Yemen’s economy is collapsing, its humanitarian crisis is worsening, and the conflict in the Arab world’s poorest nation is growing more violent, the United Nations’ deputy humanitarian chief has said.

The grim remarks by Assistant Secretary-General Ramesh Rajasingham came during a briefing to the UN Security Council on Thursday. More than 20 million Yemenis – two-thirds of the population – need humanitarian assistance, but aid agencies, he said, “are, once again, starting to run out of money”.

Aid agencies are now helping nearly 13 million people across the country, about 3 million more than just a few months ago, Rajasingham added. “Our best assessment is that this expansion has considerably pushed back the immediate risk of large-scale famine.”

But he warned that aid agencies don’t have enough money to keep going at this scale and “in the coming weeks and months, up to 4 million people could see their food aid reduced” and “by the end of the year, that number could rise to 5 million people”.

“We are calling on everyone to do everything possible to sustain the momentum we’ve built over the last several months and keep famine at bay,” Rajasingham said.

Yemen has been convulsed by civil war since 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of the capital of Sanaa and much of the northern part of the country, forcing the internationally recognised government to flee to the south, then to Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015, backed by the United States, in an effort to restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power and threw its support behind his government.

Despite a relentless air campaign and ground fighting, the war has deteriorated largely into a deadlock and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The US has since suspended its direct involvement in the conflict.

In early 2020, the Houthis launched an offensive in the mostly government-held Marib province that has cost the lives of thousands of young people and left thousands of displaced civilians living in constant fear of violence and having to move again.

On Thursday, tribal leaders and Yemeni officials said that fighting over Marib in the last 24 hours killed at least 140 fighters on both sides. The clashes were taking place in the districts of Abdiya and al-Jubah, they said.

At the briefing to the Security Council, Rajasingham said the Houthis “intensified their brutal offensive in Marib, taking more territory there and in neighbouring parts of the southern province of Shabwa”.

Ongoing fighting

He also pointed to clashes between rival armed groups earlier this month in the southern city of Aden – where Hadi’s government set up headquarters after the Houthis pushed them out of Sanaa and the north – and continued fighting, shelling and airstrikes in northwest Saada and western Hajjah and Hodeida provinces.

In September, 235 civilians were killed or injured, the second-highest figure in two years, and fighting in Marib is taking “a particularly heavy civilian toll”, with almost 10,000 people displaced in September, the second-highest figure in two years, Rajasingham said.

The new UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, who took up the post last month, told the council that he has held meetings with government and Houthi officials, as well as key regional and international officials focused on how to move towards a political solution to restore peace in Yemen.

“The gap in trust between warring parties is wide and growing,” he said in a virtual briefing. Grundberg said he made clear that while progress should be made on urgent humanitarian and economic issues, urgent political talks without preconditions are essential to negotiate a settlement of the conflict.

“Let us not fool ourselves, this will be a laborious and complicated task that will take time but it must take place,” Grundberg said. “The past weeks have illustrated the tension between the pace of the war and the economic collapse on one hand, and the time needed to devise and consult on a feasible way forward, on the other.”

Rajasingham reiterated that Yemen’s economic collapse “is driving most needs in the country – including the risk of famine”.

Yemen imports almost everything, he said, and the Yemeni rial is trading around 1,270 rials to the dollar in Aden, nearly six times higher than before the war, and fewer goods are reaching the country’s ports. Commercial food imports to the key ports of Hodeida and Saleef were eight percent less than last year’s average in September, and “fuel imports were an alarming 64 percent lower,” he said.

He urged immediate steps to stem the country’s economic collapse, including injections of foreign exchange through the Central Bank which would quickly bring down prices, as they have done in the past, as well as fully opening all ports, lifting import restrictions at Hodeida and Saleef, and paying civil servant salaries.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/10/14/yemens-humanitarian-crisis-growing-as-economy-collapses-un

UN urges Gulf states to step up to avert Yemen famine

After nearly six years of war, millions of Yemenis are on the brink of famine [File:Reuters]
After nearly six years of war, millions of Yemenis are on the brink of famine [File:Reuters]

UN aid chief Mark Lowcock has urged Gulf states to step up next Monday when the world body seeks to avert a large-scale “man-made” famine in Yemen by raising $3.85bn for humanitarian operations in the war-torn Arabian Peninsula country for 2021.

The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 80 percent of the people in need. Lowcock warned if the world body does not receive the money it needs at a virtual pledging conference on Monday, “we’re going to see is the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.

In 2018 and 2019, the UN prevented famine in Yemen due to a well-funded aid appeal, which included large donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, Lowcock said.

“What is alarming and what is different about the situation we’re in now is that there’s been such a big drop off in support for the aid operation that we’ve been cutting aid to starving people – not in an isolated way, in a way that affects millions of people all over the country,” Lowcock said on Wednesday.

In 2020 the United Nations only received just more than half the $3.4bn it needed, which Lowcock said was largely due to smaller contributions from Gulf countries. He urged them to pledge generously for 2021 and pay quickly.

“My message really to the Gulf countries … is you have an extremely important role to play here, what you did in 2018 and 2019 saved a lot of lives, frankly, and enabled us to avoid a total collapse and a tragedy of genuinely historic proportion. It’s now back on a knife-edge,” Lowcock

“This is an entirely man-made famine,” he added.

Yemen is engulfed in a war that erupted in 2014 when Houthi rebels took control of the capital Sanaa and most of the country’s north after overthrowing the internationally-backed government. Months later, a Saudi-led coalition launched a military offensive in support of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

After nearly six years of war, millions of Yemenis are on the brink of famine with the economy destroyed, schools and hospitals barely functioning, and tens of thousands killed.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/25/un-aid-chief-urges-gulf-states-to-step-up-to-avert-yemen-famine

Campaigners urge G20 to ensure end to bombing of Yemen

Image: http://theirworld.org/places/yemen
Image: http://theirworld.org/places/yemen

Saudi forces have led a five year bombing of Yemen, with arms provided by many G20 countries. The UK has licensed at least £5.4 billion worth of arms since the bombing began, with the actual level of arms sales being far higher.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has urged G20 leaders to ensure that they use this weekend’s summit to work towards ending the conflict in Yemen. The summit is being hosted by the Saudi Arabian regime, which has led a brutal bombardment on Yemen since March 2015.

The war has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with some estimates putting the death toll at over 100,000 people. Many of the G20 participants have provided arms for the war; including the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy.

Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £5.4 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including:£2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones). £2.5 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures). In reality the figures are likely to be a great deal higher, with most bombs and missiles being licensed via the opaque and secretive Open Licence system.

The UK’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems, has made £15 billion in revenue from services and sales to Saudi Arabia since 2015.

In June 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of UK-made arms to Saudi-led forces for use in Yemen without making an assessment as to whether or not past incidents amounted to breaches of International Humanitarian Law. This followed a case brought by CAAT. The government was ordered not to approve any new licences and to retake the decisions on extant licences in a lawful manner.

In July 2020 the government announced that it was resuming arms sales. This followed a review by the Department of International Trade which concluded that any violations of International Humanitarian Law committed by the Saudi coalition were ‘isolated incidents’, despite the fact that hundreds of attacks on residential areas, schools, hospitals, civilian gatherings, and agricultural land and facilities have been documented. In October 2020, CAAT filed a new legal challenge against the government’s decision to resume sales.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The G20 summit gives a big propaganda coup to the Saudi Royal Family, allowing it to whitewash its abuses behind a veneer of ‘modernisation’ and boost its standing on the world stage.

“The reality is that the Saudi regime has an appalling human rights record and a long history of repression and targeting human rights campaigners. Those campaigners must be freed. Unfortunately, many of the leaders who expressed their outrage over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi are all too happy to partake in the charade.

“Over the last five years, Saudi forces have inflicted a brutal bombardment on Yemen. The war has only been made possible by the arms sales and support that has come from some of the leaders than will be joining them this weekend, including the UK. After years of conflict, and with COVID spreading, the crisis is only getting worse. The bombing must stop and so must have the arms sales that have enabled it.”

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/40943

Yemen war: A look at a ‘serious humanitarian crisis’

Yemen
A Yemeni man holds a rifle in Aden, Sept. 14, 2006. Credit: Dmitry Chulov/Shutterstock.

– Nearly 24 million people in Yemen are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, according to a Center of Strategic and International Studies report.

Speaking Jan. 9 to diplomats accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis called the current situation in Yemen “one of the most serious humanitarian crises of recent history.”

The Yemeni Civil War between a Saudi Arabian-led coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels has left more than 100,000 dead since 2015, and millions more in need of basic food and medical necessities. Between Saudi air strikes on hospitals and schools and Houthi forces holding aid hostage, both sides of the conflict have violated international humanitarian law.

In his speech to diplomats last month the pope decried the “general indifference on the part of the international community” to the human suffering in Yemen.

The United Nations was $1.2 billion short of meeting its $4.2 billion goal for international donations to address the situation in Yemen in 2019. However, the greater challenge has been getting the existing food and medical aid to the millions of Yemeni people who need it.

Severe movement constraints on humanitarian organizations, aerial bombardments, and restrictions on importation has left 80% of Yemen’s population in need of food, fuel, and medicine, the CSIS Task Force on Humanitarian Access reported.

On Feb. 19, the Associated Press reported that half of the United Nations’ aid delivery programs had been blocked by the Houthi rebels. The rebels had requested that 2% of the entire aid budget be given to them, heightening concerns that the rebels have been diverting humanitarian aid to fund the war.

“To implement a tax on humanitarian assistance are unacceptable and directly contradict international humanitarian principles,” a USAID spokesperson told the AP.

Because the UN and other donors refused to pay the 2% demand, more than 300,000 pregnant and nursing mothers and children under 5 did not receive nutritional supplements for six months, a U.N. official said.

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have attacked Yemeni hospitals, a breach of international humanitarian law. On Feb. 10, the UN reported that two more hospitals north of Marib City had been hit.

More than 19.7 million people in Yemen are in need of basic health care after the conflict severely damaged vital health care facilities.

A cholera outbreak in Yemen has affected tens of thousands of people, but cases of cholera have significantly declined since September 2019 when the World Health Organization reported 86,000 cases. In January 2020, WHO reported 35,000 suspected cholera cases in Yemen.

A UN spokesman reported Feb. 18 that aid staff have not heard reports of “famine-like conditions” in 2020 as they had in 2018. However, 7 million people in Yemen remain malnourished as the country relies on imports for 90% of its grain and other food supplies.

In early months of 2020, the conflict has displaced 26,800 people in northern Yemen, according to the UN.

In January 2020, a representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN spoke during an open debate at the UN Security Council.

Pope Francis is concerned about the continued “silence and indifference” on the situation in Yemen and concerned that the lack of international attention could allow further suffering and loss of life, Vatican diplomat Monsignor Fredrik Hansen told the Security Council.

The pope has often asked for prayers for the Yemeni people in his public audiences in recent years.

“Pray hard, because there are children who are hungry, who are thirsty, who have no medicine, and are in danger of death,” Pope Francis said during an Angelus prayer in February 2019.

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/yemen-war-a-look-at-a-serious-humanitarian-crisis-25491

US, France, Britain may be complicit in Yemen war crimes: UN

UN YemenInvestigators have found potential crimes on the side of the Houthis and Saudi-led coalition, while also highlighting the role Western countries play as key backers of the Arab states [File: Hani Mohammed/AP]

The United States, United Kingdom and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen by arming and providing intelligence and logistics support to a Saudi-led coalition that starves civilians as a war tactic, the United Nations has said.

A UN panel announced on Tuesday that investigators compiled a secret list of possible international war crimes suspects, drawn from their latest report into violations during the four-year conflict between a coalition of Arab states and the Houthi movement that controls Yemen’s capital.

Investigators found potential crimes on both sides, while also highlighting the role Western countries have played as key backers of the Arab states and Iran has played in support of the Houthis.

The report accused the anti-Houthi coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of killing civilians in air raids and deliberately denying them food in a country facing famine. The Houthis for their part have shelled cities, deployed child soldiers and used “siege-like warfare”, it said.

The Houthis drove Yemen’s internationally-recognised government out of the capital Sanaa in 2014. The Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Muslim states intervened the following year to restore the ousted government in a conflict that has since killed tens of thousands of people.

The prospect of famine has created what the UN describes as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

Secret list of suspected perpetrators

The UN report said its independent panel had sent a secret list to UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, identifying “individuals who may be responsible for international crimes”.

Its appendix lists the names of more than 160 “main actors” among Saudi, Emirati and Yemeni top brass as well as the Houthi movement, although it did not specify whether any of these names also figured in its list of potential suspects.

“Individuals in the Government of Yemen and the coalition, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, may have conducted air strikes in violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, and may have used starvation as a method of warfare, acts that may amount to war crimes,” it said.

“The legality of arms transfers by France, the United Kingdom, the United States and other states remains questionable, and is the subject of various domestic court proceedings,” it added.

Commenting on the report, Noha Aboueldahab, a fellow at the foreign policy programme at the Brookings Institution told Al Jazeera that developing a list of perpetrators was within the UN’s mandate.

“It is part of the UN’s mandate to try to identify violations and humanitarian law crimes and, where possible, to identify those responsible for those violations. In terms of developing this list of potential perpetrators is within the UN’s mandate.

“Although it is difficult to say who is on the list, it would be interesting to see if there are any individuals on this list from the US, France and UK,” she added.

Failed accountability

The report also said that it found that a Joint Incidents Assessment Team set up by Saudi Arabia to review alleged coalition violations had failed to hold anyone accountable for any strike killing civilians, raising “concerns as to the impartiality of its investigations”.

The UN panel said it had received allegations that Emirati and affiliated forces had tortured, raped and killed suspected political opponents detained in secret facilities, while Houthi forces had planted land mines.

Air strikes by the Saudi-led military coalition in southwest Yemen hit a prison complex, killing scores of people, the Houthi movement and a Red Cross official said on Sunday.

Aboueldahab said that while justice could take time, the UN report was essential for building a case against suspected perpetrators.

“The statements coming out of the UN and multiple reports calling for accountability will probably not led to immediate prosecution, the information in these reports is absolutely crucial to build cases in the future.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/france-britain-complicit-yemen-war-crimes-190903103122355.html

UN gets access to vital grain in Yemen port city of Hodeidah

imageYemen’s four-year-long civil war has left nearly 80 percent of the population in need of aid [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

A United Nations team has regained access to grain in Yemen that could feed more than 3.7 million people for a month, in a country “gripped with the world’s largest humanitarian crisis” but the cereal is partially infested and must first be fumigated, UN officials say.

The team reached the grain store on Sunday. It is in the Red Sea Mills silos just outside the port town of Hodeidah near a front line area in Yemen’s four-year-old civil war.

“We lost access to this mill in September of last year,” Stephen Anderson, the World Food Programme (WFP) Yemen country director told Al Jazeera from Djibouti.

For months forces affiliated with the Houthi movement which control the port did not allow the UN to cross front lines to access the mills on the outskirts of the city.

“We managed to first gain access, despite repeated attempts in late February and at that time we could see that the grain was in an advanced stage of infestation,” Anderson said.
Brink of famine

An assessment at that time concluded that about 70 percent of the wheat may be salvageable. The WFP-led team is to begin work to save it.

“They’re going to restart the mill and try to get the fumigation under way so that we can get this food out to people who need it most,” Anderson told Al Jazeera.

The war in Yemen has caused the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 24.1 million people – nearly 80 percent of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance, the UN said.

Tens of thousands have been killed, and the country is on the brink of famine.

It will likely take several weeks to mill what can be salvaged from the 51,000 tonnes of grain into flour and distribute it to the Yemeni communities most in need.

“We must have unimpeded access to this mill,” Anderson said. “We are scaling up to helping 12 million people a month so every bit of grain we can get is vitally needed at this time.”

The Houthis and the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi agreed in December to a UN-sponsored truce and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah.

That deal has largely held but violence has escalated in some other parts of the country.

Talks aimed at securing a mutual military withdrawal from Hodeidah have stalled despite UN efforts.

Under the proposed withdrawal, a government retreat would free up access to the Red Sea Mills and humanitarian corridors would also be reopened. The warring sides would still need to agree on which road could be used to transport supplies from the site to recipients.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are leading the military coalition backing Hadi’s government.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/access-vital-grain-yemen-port-city-hodeidah-190505183423561.html

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive: Yemeni child soldiers recruited by Saudi-UAE coalition

Child soldier photoAhmad al-Naqib, 16, managed to flee a military camp at the Saudi-Yemeni border [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive footage that proves the presence of child soldiers in the recruitment camps of the Saudi-UAE-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

The children, desperately poor, are being recruited to fight along the Saudi border to defend it from the Houthis, a rebel group that overran the capital, Sanaa, and large swaths of Yemen’s northwest in 2014.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) formed a coalition to overthrow the Houthis – plunging Yemen into a ruinous war – supported by forces loyal to the country’s internationally recognised government.

The conflict has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, pushing Yemen to the brink of famine and leaving about 80 percent of its population – 24 million people – in need of humanitarian assistance.

However, many children face an even worse reality: being recruited by either warring side to fight in the conflict. According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the child soldiers in Yemen fight for the Houthis. The others fight for the Saudi-UAE-led coalition.

Although Yemen and Saudi Arabia signed the international protocol banning involvement of children in armed conflict in 2007 and 2011, respectively, at the end of 2018, Saudi Arabia was accused of recruiting Sudanese children from Darfur to fight on its behalf in Yemen.

Today, Yemeni children are being recruited using local trafficking networks to defend the Saudi border.

Bereaved families interviewed by Al Jazeera questioned why the coalition would need to recruit children to fight in its war. Al Jazeera investigated these claims.

Paycheck promises

In the southern city of Taiz, Al Jazeera spoke to 16-year-old Ahmad al-Naqib and his family at the end of 2018, and the family of Mohammad Ali Hameed, 15, in February 2019. Both boys left their home, chasing promises of a regular paycheck and non-combatant roles.

Ahmad was able to flee and tell us his story, but Mohammad never made it home after he was recruited, leaving his father to tell his story.

“He had graduated from high school and started working, but before we knew it they had recruited him. He insisted on going to al-Buqa’,” Mohammad’s father, Ali, told Al Jazeera in an interview in December.

“It has been five months since he left. We have not heard anything since; we still don’t know where he is,” he added.

Both teenagers, who came from a poor background, embarked last year on separate and arduous journeys from their villages near Taiz, in the south of Yemen, towards the Saudi border crossing of al-Wade’a in the north.

According to Ahmad, al-Buqa’ in Yemen – close to the Saudi border – is where Yemeni children are being trained to fight. It is also an area that has seen frequent fighting between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition. In order to avoid exposure to the Houthis, buses carrying people to al-Buqa’ were going through the border town of al-Wade’a into Saudi Arabia.

‘There are many just like them’

The teenagers were first contacted by recruiters in the south’s poverty-stricken villages; they were looking for young boys to take to the Saudi-Yemeni borders.

Ahmad said he and many other boys were recruited ostensibly to work in the kitchens of Yemeni military units stationed inside Saudi Arabia.

“We went because we were told we would be working in a kitchen and making 3,000 Saudi riyals ($800)… so we believed them and got on the bus,” Ahmad told Al Jazeera.

Typically, a recruiter would deliver his human cargo to a trafficker at one of the Yemeni cities along the route leading up to the borders. The trafficker would then deliver the young recruits to another smuggler who would provide them with identification cards – if they did not have one – so they are able to cross into Saudi Arabia, where they would be placed into a military camp.

Al Jazeera called a trafficker, posing as a man interested in travelling to a military camp with three boys between 15 and 16 years old. The trafficker said the boys would be “bought” by someone at al-Wade’a who would provide them with military identification. After expressing concern that the boys would be turned away for being obviously underage, the trafficker said: “Don’t worry, there are many just like them.”

In a follow-up phone call with the trafficker about the fate of the boys, he said: “Don’t worry, this stuff isn’t important to us. What is important is that they are good soldiers. Can they handle guns?”

Ahmad got to al-Wade’a and went further inland, but did not go all the way to al-Buqa’. He heard from people in an intermediary camp that they would only be paid half the $800 salaries they were promised every two or three months and that he might not be a cook after all. “They give you your gun and send you to the front lines [to fight the Houthis],” Ahmad was told.

“They take them into battles to defend Saudi Arabia. As if these children are the ones who will defend the kingdom. Where are their weapons, their aeroplanes?” said Mohammad al-Naqeeb, Ahmad’s father.

Ahmad said he and others managed to flee the camp late last year.

Fifteen-year-old Mohammad was not one of them.

“His mother is devastated. She has given up. I wish he’d just call to let us know that he’s OK; that’s all we want. We just want to know if he’s alive or dead,” Mohammad’s father said.

“These young and irrational boys should have never been allowed to be enticed and recruited to fight in the war. The government should have sent them back home to go to school, but in a time like this, conscience is dead. Instead, they’re welcomed with open arms,” he added.

Al Jazeera obtained access to a secret list containing the names of Yemeni soldiers captured by the Houthis that Yemen’s government submitted during a round of talks between the warring sides in Sweden last year.

Mohammad’s name was not on the list. His fate is still unknown.

Ahmad, on the other hand, managed to come home to his anguished parents after escaping from the camp.

But a terrible fate awaited him. In January, a stray bullet hit the young boy in the head, ending his short life.

Al Jazeera contacted the Saudi Ministry for Foreign Affairs for comment. They have not responded to the request.

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2019/03/exclusive-yemeni-child-soldiers-recruited-saudi-uae-coalition-190329132329547.html