Yemen

  • Oxfam has been in Yemen for more than 30 years, working hard to improve water and sanitation services, as well as the livelihoods of people living in poverty. Since 2015, we’ve reached 1 million people with clean water, food vouchers, cash transfers and hygiene kits as part of our emergency response.

Time for G7 to End the War in Yemen

On 9 August 2018, a 500lb GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb was dropped by the Royal Saudi Air Force on a school bus in Dahyan, Sa-ada Governorate of northern Yemen killing 40 boys aged between six and eleven. They were on a trip, excited, playing together, seemingly happy despite the war that has dominated their lives for over four years. [1] 11 adults were also killed. This brutal act was one of over 50 attacks on civilian vehicles recorded by Human Rights Watch in Yemen during 2018.[2,3]  
 
This is part of a pattern in four years of war where civilians have borne the brunt of the fighting. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED)[4]  reports nearly 4,500 direct civilian targeting events resulting in approximately 11,700 reported civilian fatalities since March 2015. Over 8000 of those civilian casualties come from airstrikes launched by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the war on Houthi rebel forces.[5]  
 
And it’s not just the bombs. Imports of food, fuel and other goods have fallen because of the fighting. Access to food aid is difficult, and prices in markets have risen greatly because of the war. Save the Children estimated last year that 85,000 Yemeni children may have died of starvation since 2015 – far more than have been killed by guns or bombs.[6]  Cholera has killed over 2500 people in Yemen, and 58% of those victims were children.[7]  Clean water is barely available in Yemen as airstrikes have destroyed water purification and piping stems. These casualties are as much victims of the war as those killed directly by the fighting.
 
Being careless as to whether civilians are hurt by military action isa serious violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime, and western governments that back the Saudi-UAE-led Coalition say the Saudis are investigating such incidents. But by 2018, out of thousands of attacks, the Coalition Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) created to investigate such bombings said it had looked at only 79.  [8]Worse, in 2015, the Coalition had declared Sa-ada, a city home to 100,000 civilians one giant military target, something that was raised before the UK Court of Appeal in the case relating to the illegality of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia under the Arms Trade Treaty and UK law.
 
Destruction of civilian houses that were hit during airstrike raids in Sana’a. Photo Credit: Bassam Al-Thulaya / Oxfam Yemen
 
And that’s the crux of the matter. The G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) who meet this month sell tens billions of dollars’ worth of arms each year to Saudi coalition members. The US is the biggest supplier, with major coalition partners. 
 
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt receiving some $19.5bn in arms deliveries from the US since 2015. [9]  The UK has licensed well over £5.3bn in arms sales to Saudi Arabia alone since 2015. Even a relatively small player like Canada sold CAN$1.2bn to Saudi Arabia in 2018, with a massive CAN$15bn contract for armoured vehicles pending. 
 
It’s not just the bombs, planes and other arms, The UK, through both Ministry of Defence and major contractor BAE Systems retains over 7000 personnel in Saudi Arabia, supporting and maintaining the Royal Saudi Air Force.[10]  Under contracts and agreements that date back to the 1980s, UK personnel maintain planes and support military operations. The government denies knowledge of what is going on, maintaining an arm’s length relationship despite years of war crimes committed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Since 2008 British personnel have not directly loaded bombs onto planes for combat operations, but oversee and support Saudi personnel to do this. They also service the planes which need continuous maintenance to remain operational. According to UK civil servants and BAE Systems personnel,  the coalition “, absolutely depend on BAE Systems” and, if the outside support stopped,  couldn’t continue the war after “seven to fourteen days”.  
 
So egregious are the breaches and violations of IHL that Germany (a partner with the UK in building Tornado and Typhoon aircraft used by Saudi Arabia) has withdrawn support for the export of spare parts to the Saudis. The highest Belgian court has ruled 20 arms export licences to Saudi Arabia illegal. The Italian Parliament has voted to stop sales to Saudi Arabia. The UK Court of Appeal has also ruled UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia illegal. 
 
The G7 nations claim to lead the world, they will undoubtedly deplore the continuing fighting and human suffering in Yemen. But the stark truth is that without them the war would have been over years ago. While they continue to fuel the conflict there is no chance that peace can prevail, and Yemenis of all ages will continue to the price of this with their lives.
 

[1] https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/13/middleeast/yemen-children-school-bus-strike-intl/index.html

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/19/us-supplied-bomb-that-killed-40-children-school-bus-yemen

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/16/yemen-school-bus-bombing-one-of-50-strikes-on-civilian-vehicles-this-year

[4] See more detail at https://www.acleddata.com/?s=Yemen.

[5] https://www.acleddata.com/2019/06/18/press-release-yemen-war-death-toll-exceeds-90000-according-to-new-acled-data-for-2015/

[6] McKernan, Bethan (21 November 2018). "Yemen: up to 85,000 young children dead from starvation". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/21/yemen-young-children-dead-starvation-disease-save-the-children

[7] Federspiel F, Ali M (December 2018). "The cholera outbreak in Yemen: lessons learned and way forward". BMC Public Health (Review). 18 (1): 1338. doi:10.1186/s12889-018-6227-6. PMC 6278080. PMID 30514336

[8] https://theintercept.com/2018/08/24/yemen-airstrikes-saudi-us-coalition/

9 Figures from securityassistance.org

10 https://www.mikelewisresearch.com/RSAFfinal.pdf

Yemen War - 1000 Child Casualites in a Year

Nearly 1,000 child casualties of Yemen war in year since shocking Sa’ada bus attack

Number killed directly by fighting is equivalent to eight more bus loads
 
More than 300 children have died in fighting across Yemen in the year since an airstrike hit a bus in Sa’ada killing 41 school children and almost 600 have been injured, as international arms sales continue to fuel the conflict.
 
335 children have been killed by violent attacks including airstrikes, mines and shelling since 9 August 2018, equivalent to another eight buses being hit. Many more have died from hunger and disease, according to the UN, in a massive humanitarian crisis stoked by the conflict.
 
The latest arms sales data, released last month, shows the UK has now licensed over £5 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since 2015 when the conflict in Yemen between the Houthis and the internationally recognised government, backed by an international coalition that includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, escalated. 
 
The Court of Appeal has ruled that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are unlawful and ordered the UK government to stop licensing new weapons exports while they assess whether airstrikes, including attacks involving children like those above, are a serious violation of international humanitarian law. The UK government has said it will appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn that decision.
 
Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “The world was rightly appalled by an attack that took the lives of so many young, innocent schoolchildren. Yet almost one child a day has been killed in the year since and violence remains a daily threat for Yemenis, alongside the struggle against hunger and disease.
 
“The people of Yemen urgently need a nationwide ceasefire before more lives are lost to this horrific conflict and the humanitarian disaster that it is fueling. All parties to the conflict and those with influence over them should do all in their power to end this deadly war now.”
 
Since the latest figures were published, more children have been killed or injured. Just last week an attack on a market killed at least 10 civilians, including children, in Sa’ada while in Taizz, five children were injured by shelling.
 
Airstrikes and shelling in Al Dale’e in May killed 10 children. In March, five children were killed in clashes in Taizz city while an attack on the Kushar district of Hajjah governorate killed 14 children. Over the year, there have been thirty incidents involving schools and eighteen involving hospitals. 
 
The conflict, between the Houthis and the internationally recognised government, backed by an international coalition that includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is now in its fifth year. The United Nations has estimated that if the war continues until 2022, more than half a million people will be killed by fighting, hunger and disease. 
 
The Houthis and the internationally recognized government of Yemen reached an agreement at talks in December which included a ceasefire deal for the key port of Hudaydah but moves to implement it have been long delayed.
 
The government and the Saudi-led coalition have accused the Houthi forces of over 5000 violations of the Stockholm agreement, while the Houthis have in turn blamed the coalition and government forces for more than 27,000 violations.
 
The international community is coming under increasing pressure to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia and other members of the coalition. In June, the Court of Appeal ruled that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia were breaking the law.
 
Clarken said: “Seventy years after the creation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which seeks to protect civilians in and around war zones, children in Yemen still find themselves in the firing line. 
 
“Rather than fighting the legal ruling against weapons, the UK government should join with the international community to focus on protecting the lives of Yemeni civilians and ending this war, not profiting from it through arms sales.”
 
ENDS 
 
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact: 
Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org 
 
NOTES TO EDITORS
 
Data on the number of children killed and injured has been provided by the UN Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP). It is unverified open source information. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Yemen Data Project also monitor civilian casualties. None is an official source and given the difficulties of working in Yemen, the data from these three sources do not always match.
The CIMP data shows 335 children died and 590 were injured between 9 August 2018, when the bus attack in Sa’ada took place, and 3 July 2019.
The government and coalition allege over 5000 violations of the Stockholm agreement by Houthi forces since it came into effect on 23 December 2018 until 10 June 2019. The Houthis allege 27714 violations by the government and coalition in the period 23 December 2018 to 2 July 2019.
 
 
 

Yemen War - 1000 Child Casualites in a Year

7 Things You Need to Know About Yemen

Yemen is experiencing what the UN describes as the ‘world’s worst’ humanitarian crisis. How many of these seven things did you already know?

 

1. Hunger is rampant.

Two thirds of Yemen's people rely on food aid to survive, and 14 million people are on the brink of famine.

2. A ceasefire is urgent.

Maintaining and expanding the ceasefire in and around Hudaydah is vital to millions of people who are struggling to survive. Yemenis desperately need all parties to the conflict to agree to an immediate countrywide ceasefire and return to negotiations committed to achieving a lasting peace.

3. Peace must be inclusive.

The pursuit of peace needs to be an inclusive political process which includes Yemeni women, youth and civil society, to bring an end to the conflict and suffering.
 
Fatima holds her son’s photo, who was killed by an airstrike when they were trying to find safety away from conflict’s frontlines in Yemen. Photo: VFX ADEN/Oxfam

4. The crisis is entirely man-made, and is being fuelled by arms sales from the US and UK, among others.

The world cannot continue to turn a blind eye to Yemen’s suffering and must stop selling weapons for use in the war.

5. Women and children are hit hardest.

The UN estimates that 3 million women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence. Children and young men have been coerced into joining armed groups, and many girls are forced into early marriage. Families are being forced to make the desperate choice to marry off their girls even as young as three years old to reduce the number of family members to feed, but also as a source of income in order to feed the rest of the family and pay off debts.
 
Oxfam has provided latrines and other humanitarian assistance in hard to reach areas, like this remote village in Al Madaribah district, Lahj governorate, Yemen. Photo: VFX ADEN/Oxfam

6. Oxfam is there.

Since July 2015, working with local and international partners, we have reached 3 million people in Yemen with humanitarian aid. And we've stepped up our work there.

7. We work alongside and through local partners in all areas of our response in Yemen.

This includes water trucking, cholera prevention, repairing water systems and delivering filters and jerry cans. Oxfam also partners with local organizations to campaign for an end to the conflict and an inclusive peace agreement that takes into account the needs and views of women, youth and civil society.
 

How you can help

  • A donation of €50/£40 can give a month's supply of clean and safe drinking and cooking water for families in need
  • A donation of €100/£90 can provide a hungry family with enough money to buy food for three months
  • A donation of €125/£100 can give sanitation to 120 people to stop the spread of life-threatening diseases.
 

Three civilians killed every day in Yemen despite Stockholm agreements

Three civilians are being killed every day in Yemen – that’s one person every eight hours – despite agreements reached between the internationally recognised government and the Houthis at talks in Sweden just over three months ago.
 
In December last year the two parties agreed a ceasefire for the key port of Hudaydah, as well as a prisoner exchange, as the first steps towards negotiating peace in Yemen, where fighting escalated four years ago on 26th March 2015.
 
In the 11 weeks following the agreements, 231 civilians were killed across the country in airstrikes, shelling, by sniper or landmines. A third of those killed were in Hudaydah governorate, despite the cease fire there.
 
56 of those killed were children – a number that would fill two classrooms in the average UK primary school. (Affiliates can adapt this and make a comparison relevant to their market.)
 
The civilian death toll has dropped in the wake of the UN sponsored talks in Sweden; the UN recently reported almost 100 civilians a week were being killed or injured in 2018. But it remains unacceptably high.
 
Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director, said: “Every day that passes without concrete progress towards peace, more Yemenis lose their lives and the suffering deepens for those struggling to find food and shelter amid the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
 
“The backers of the warring parties are complicit in this man-made crisis; we call on them to stop arming the belligerents. They and the rest of the international community need to do all they can to help bring about a lasting peace in Yemen.”
 
Aside from fatalities, the war continues to take a toll on civilians in other ways. Millions of Yemenis are on the brink of famine due to the withering economy and the closure of key ports to vital food supplies. Oxfam recently met a family forced to make the difficult choice to marry off their three-year-old daughter so that her parents could use the money to buy food and shelter for other family members.
 
Siddiquey added: “Governments that continue to sell arms to any party to the conflict are prolonging and deepening the suffering of millions of Yemenis.
 
“The fighting needs to stop and the governments allowing arms sales for use in Yemen  should instead focus their efforts on securing peace.”
 
Notes to editors
 
Data on the number of civilian deaths has been provided by the UN Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP). It is unverified open source information but is the only regular reporting mechanism of casualties by the UN.
 
The CIMP data shows 231 civilians died between 13th December 2018, when the talks in Sweden concluded, and 28th February 2019, including 56 children and 43 women. 81 of these fatalities occurred in Hudaydah governorate.
 
ENDS
 
CONTACT: Spokespeople are available for interview. For more, please contact: Alice Dawson-Lyons at alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org or +353 (0) 83 198 1869
 
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Half a million homeless Yemenis on brink of famine face winter freeze

 
More than half a million people who have fled fighting in Yemen are facing a double threat of famine and near freezing temperatures Oxfam said today, as it called on the warring parties to respect the ceasefire agreed in Sweden last week. 
 
People forced to flee their homes are set for a winter struggle to survive in areas of the country which are one step away from famine and often without adequate shelter to protect them or fuel to keep them warm as temperatures plummet. 
 
Almost 20,000 displaced people are facing winter weather in districts already experiencing famine conditions. 
 
Winter temperatures are likely to drop to below freezing in highland areas of Yemen and rain brought in by southwest winds can fall in heavy torrents, leading to flooding. Many of the 530,000 displaced people living in these areas are in makeshift shelters with no insulation or weatherproofing
 
Humanitarian agencies have identified over 75,000 displaced, vulnerable families in districts across the country who will need help to cope during the winter months, and there are likely to be more who haven’t been included in the assessment. 2658 of these families are in districts with catastrophic levels of hunger. 
 
Despite the warring parties agreeing to a ceasefire and withdrawal of forces from the key city and port of Hudaydah at negotiations in Sweden last week, there have been clashes, shelling and airstrikes in recent days. Continued fighting will disrupt aid efforts and make it harder for Yemenis to survive the winter. 
 
Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director said: “Freezing temperatures could be the final straw for families already struggling to survive desperate hunger. Imagine trying to survive a winter freeze in a tent, far from your home, without knowing where your next meal is coming from - that is the dreadful prospect facing tens of thousands of families. 
 
"It is vital that the ceasefire holds so that aid is able to reach as many people as possible this winter and those struggling to survive at least get a respite from the fighting. 
 
“While a step in the right direction, the international community cannot assume that the agreements reached in Sweden will fix everything. They need to keep the pressure on the warring parties to lay down their weapons and work towards a peaceful solution to the conflict that will give the people of Yemen real hope.” 
 
Malnourished people are less able to cope with disease and extreme temperatures. Food price rises have put the cost of basic necessities beyond the reach of many. The price of a month’s worth of essential food rose 15 per cent in October, the last month for which data is available. This basket of foods now costs 137 per cent more than it did before the conflict began. 
 
Yemen has already been described by the UN as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. 
 
Salaries of public sector workers in the north of the country have not been paid for almost two years, leaving approximately 6.9 million people without a main source of income. Around eight million people are thought to have lost their jobs since the beginning of the conflict because of the closure of private businesses. 
 
Oxfam is providing aid, including clean water and cash to buy basic food supplies, to people forced to flee their homes. 
 
ENDS
 
For more information , please contact:
 
ROI:     Alice Dawson-Lyons on 083 198 1869 /alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org
 
NI:        Phillip Graham on 07841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org
 

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