August has been the bloodiest month this year for civilians in Yemen, thanks to the warring parties’ indifference to civilian lives and their international backers’ unwillingness to take action to prevent further carnage, said Oxfam today.
The grim figures come as the first talks in two years take place in Geneva to try to secure peace.
Reports collated by the UN’s civilian impact monitoring department show that in the first nine days of August there were more than 450 civilian casualties, including 131 children. By August 31, 981 civilians had been killed or injured, including over 300 children. It is likely that these reports, gleaned from open sources, are not capturing all civilian casualties.
Abby Maxman, Oxfam America President, said,
“Nothing appears off-limits in Yemen anymore, where gathering for weddings and funerals or going to market or school can be life or death decisions. As the civilian death toll continues to climb, the United States is poised for another massive arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Also, the recently adopted defense authorization bill requires the US to stop mid-air refueling of Saudi and Emirati planes unless the State Department can certify that the two countries are taking steps to reduce civilian casualties, make peace and improve the humanitarian situation.”
Congress has asked the State Department a set of straightforward questions around our support forSaudi Arabia and UAE. State can tell the truth and put its weight behind the peace process, or lie to perpetuate a self-defeating and morally repugnant Yemen policy. How many more children will be killed before the backers of this war will own up to their complicity?
Maxman continued, “When I visited Yemen in July, I met families who bravely go about their everyday lives, but with a constant fear for their safety, and it pains me to know that the United States is playing an active role in that danger. The bloodshed has to end and the US can help stop it by ending refueling, arms sales, and any other military support for the coalition in Yemen.”
In one of the bloodiest attacks of the month, Saudi Arabia dropped a bomb purchased from the US on a school bus, killing 40, over half of them children. The US-supported coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, is responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties in the conflict.
All warring parties continue to commit violations of the rules of war. According to the UN, between March 26, 2015 and August 9, 2018 there were a total of 17,062 civilian casualties. The majority of these casualties, 10,471, were as a result of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.
Meanwhile the Houthis and other armed groups continue their stranglehold in Taiz and other areas where street fighting and the use of landmines is leading to civilian casualties, and lack of access means people are denied humanitarian assistance.
Despite the reported ‘pause’ in the fighting around the port city of Hudaydah, the beginning of August saw deadly mortar attacks on a busy market killing 41 civilians including six children and four women and injuring another 111 civilians. There was also a mortar attack on a hospital in the city causing many civilian casualties.
There appears to be no let-up in the fighting which continues towards the south of Hudaydah with the current focus in Ad Durayhimi city. There is fighting in residential neighborhoods in the city, air strikes, mounting civilian casualties and people trapped inside the city unable to flee or get medical assistance.
Aid agencies are finding it difficult to help people because of the fighting and blocked roads. Damage to water and sanitation infrastructure in Hudaydahand other parts of the country is denying thousands of people access to water, and increasing the threat of a third spike in cholera cases. While the focus is on Hudyadah, fighting is also reported in other parts of the country including Lahj, Al Baydah, Sa’daa, Hajaah, Taiz and elsewhere.
Notes to Editors:
The figures collated by the UN’s civilian impact monitoring department come from open sources and have not been verified. They are collected on a daily basis and shared with UN agencies and NGOs.
A recent joint UN Development Programme Early Recovery Assessment showed how life has deteriorated for people across the board in last three years of the conflict: people are becoming poorer, many have lost incomes and are reliant on casual labor or aid, many cannot afford to buy food, and face difficulties accessing food, water, health and education.
Last week’s UN Group of Experts report shows a pattern of violations and potential war crimes committed against civilians by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and by the Houthi’s over the last three years, including a punishing air and naval blockade, attacks on residential areas, schools and medical facilities, and arbitrary arrests.