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Press Release

Civilian deaths in Yemen up by 164% as United States recertifies support for the war

Last updated 
  • New data provides further shocking evidence of the impact of Yemen’s war on defenseless civilians
  • During this week’s UN General Assembly in New York, world leaders must call for an immediate ceasefire

The International Rescue Committee is appalled by reports published by the monitoring group Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), which show the number of civilian deaths in Yemen’s four year civil war have increased by 164% since June. According to the group, average monthly civilian deaths have skyrocketed to 116 since the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition launched an offensive to take Hodeidah city.

Frank Mc Manus, Yemen Country Director at International Rescue Committee, said:

"August was the most violent month of 2018 in Yemen with nearly 500 people killed in just 9 days. The impact of the war on civilians is difficult to comprehend but easy to quantify. Since 2015 the Coalition has undertaken 18,000 airstrikes - one every 99 minutes - one third of which have hit non-military targets.

The protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure is not a luxury; it is an essential provision of international law. When these laws fail civilians suffer. Calls from members of the UN Security Council for all conflict actors to respect international law and protect civilians ring hollow in the face of evidence from the ground in Yemen. The world needs a wake up call on Yemen and a new strategy to prevent the suffering of civilians.

As we speak, fighting inside the critical port city of Hodeidah is increasing and the consequences are dire. A siege of the port city will effectively block humanitarian aid from reaching the 22 million people in need and could trigger famine. This week the UN warned that we are losing the fight against famine in Yemen, and with the humanitarian crisis plummeting to new depths, all efforts must be focused on securing a ceasefire.

The US State Department’s recent certification to Congress that the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition in Yemen is taking demonstrable actions to reduce civilian harm and alleviate the humanitarian crisis is inconsistent with what International Rescue Committee staff experience across Yemen daily. Coalition efforts to protect civilians are simply not good enough, and the recent run of civilians deaths, including woman and school children, is tragic evidence of the shortcomings.

Have global leaders already forgotten last month’s airstrike that killed 51 civilians, including 40 children traveling on a bus? Or this month’s report from the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, which adds to the increasing evidence of violations and crimes under international law perpetrated by all sides in the war?”

While all sides - including Houthi authorities and the Saudi-led and Emirati-led Coalition - are guilty of violations of international humanitarian law, the United States and the United Kingdom are supporting the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition with weapons and military support. In 2017, alone, the US approved 17.86 billion USD in military sales by corporations to Saudi Arabia, 26.75 times more than US humanitarian aid to Yemen in 2017. In the same year the UK licensed £1.13bn of arms.

International Rescue Committee staff have evacuated their homes in Hodeidah City and are now working from Bajil, a small town located 50km from the frontlines of the war, where they continue their life-saving work despite being displaced from their homes.

There is no military solution to the end of the war in Yemen. The IRC calls on all parties to immediately stop the fighting and allow room for a UN-led peace process to take place and for unfettered humanitarian access to reach all Yemenis in need. During this week’s UN General Assembly in New York, world leaders must address the horrors going unheard in Yemen.

To download photos and multimedia from the ground, click here.

For more information on Yemen, please visit: https://www.rescue.org/country/yemen

 

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.