Sana’a, Yemen, August 24, 2018 — Only two weeks ago, the IRC was warning of the increasingly deadly impact of this conflict following attacks in Hodeidah and Saada that killed scores of civilians – including 40 school children. If confirmed, yesterday’s attacks are another reminder that it is Yemen’s vulnerable civilians who are paying the ultimate price for the failure of all parties to respect the rules of war.
IRC’s Yemen Country Director, Frank McManus said: “With the first round of peace negotiations in Geneva now less than two weeks away, attacks like these will undermine the potential for progress. The international community must demand action - an immediate ceasefire should be agreed upon and a full, independent investigation into these events must be undertaken. But thus far, international silence in response to violations in Yemen has been deafening and it is allowing wanton disregard to civilian life to become the new normal in conflict. We are no longer shocked by acts of cruelty.
“Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are the defining characteristics of the Yemen war, but we cannot become numb to such appalling acts of cruelty. It is far past time that the international backers of this war use their influence to stop the suffering of Yemeni people. Civilians must be protected. Humanitarian assistance must reach those in need. The US, UK, and France have leverage to alleviate suffering - they must use it. Yemen, and Yemenis, cannot wait.”
While the pause in the Emirati-led offensive against the crucial port city Hodeidah has, for now, averted a humanitarian catastrophe, intense violence south of the city has continued. For more than two weeks Durayhimi City has been on the front lines of this fighting with anti-Houthi forces, led by the Saudis and Emiratis, laying siege to the city ahead of a full scale offensive last week.
Humanitarian access to the city and surrounding area is highly constrained by the conflict. IRC staff are hearing reports that residents can no longer afford food, medicine and basic supplies, forcing them to risk fleeing across conflict lines. It is not just air and artillery strikes that harm and kill civilians – denial to life-saving aid and medical care drives unimaginable suffering. And it is all man-made.
3 million people have been forced to flee the fighting since the war began and more than 350,000 Yemeni people have fled violence along Yemen’s west coast since the beginning of June. The war has precipitated the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with 22 million people in need of assistance – a situation that the United Nations warns could deteriorate further.
Without a marked improvement in the situation on the ground, another 10 million Yemeni civilians will teeter on the edge of starvation, in addition to the more than 8.4 million who already do not know from where their next meal will come from, while the risk of a cholera outbreak could compound the misery facing Yeminis.
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.