Sana’a 7 November 2022
Mwatana for Human Rights said today that the parties to the armed conflict in Yemen did not fully commit to implementing the United Nations-backed truce agreement that took initially effect in early April and was not extended in October 2022. Mwatana documented various violations and abuses that resulted in civilian casualties during the truce period, which should have witnessed a complete cessation of military operations and hostilities.
The truce in Yemen offered respite to civilians across the country and was considered a first step towards a broader settlement. However, the truce did not stop the harm caused to civilians by the warring parties, nor did it alleviate the burdens they still endure.
Mwatana calls on the parties to the conflict to remove obstacles and intensify efforts to reach an agreement that extends the truce, which ended in early October, and is aimed at the complete cessation of military and hostile operations, the payment of salaries to public servants, and the opening of roads to alleviate the suffering experienced by civilians in Taiz and other governorates. Efforts must also be made to end violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Radhya Al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, said, “Although the truce has been an important step for people’s lives, it was not a comprehensive peace agreement guaranteeing the full protection of civilians, because the armed conflict in Yemen is more than just bombs and missiles. Human rights violations are still continuing, and the need for an international criminal accountability mechanism for Yemen remains urgent.”
In early April, the United Nations, through its Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, brokered a truce agreement between the parties to the conflict in Yemen. The agreement included, for the duration of the extendable truce, the cessation of all offensive land, air and sea military operations inside and outside Yemen, the freezing of current military positions on the ground, the entry of fuel ships to the ports of Hodeidah, and the partial opening of Sana’a International Airport by allowing two commercial flights per week to and from Jordan and Egypt. The truce also included a call for an agreement to open roads in Taiz and other governorates to facilitate the movement of civilian men, women, and children.
When the truce entered into force, the Special Envoy for Yemen invited the warring parties to a meeting in Jordan to reach an agreement on opening the roads in Taiz and other governorates to facilitate the movement of civilians, but these efforts of the United Nations failed. This statement emphasizes the importance of the truce, the gains it achieved for a large segment of the Yemeni civilian population, and the importance of the United Nations Envoy’s continuous efforts to extend the duration of the truce and its benefits for civilians, but also sheds light on the violations by the parties to the conflict that affected civilians during the truce period from early April to the beginning of October 2022. Peace efforts and the international community should consider the documented violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law to ensure that the parties commit not to repeat them as an essential obligation in future negotiations or agreements.
In August 2022, Mwatana and 15 other organizations have published a statement calling on The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group to immediately open vital roads in Taiz, so that civilians can regain freedom of movement, and to prevent further deterioration of the already serious humanitarian crisis in Taiz. In the same month, Shabwa governorate witnessed armed clashes between factions loyal to the Saudi/UAE-led coalition, causing the displacement of 313 households. All cases of displacement occurred within this governorate, according to the International Organization for Migration.
On July 24, 2022, Mwatana condemned a ground attack by Ansar Allah “Houthis” on a residential neighborhood in the city of Taiz. In late August 2022, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen condemned the attack launched from Houthi-controlled area, Al-Dhabab in Taiz, describing it as “threatening to seriously aggravate the humanitarian situation of civilians.”
Despite international interest in ending the armed conflict in Yemen, violations and abuses and the number of civilian casualties continue. The parties to the conflict have committed various types of attacks and violations, including ground shelling, drone attacks, live ammunition, landmines, child recruitment and mobilization, and attacks on civilian objects, such as hospitals and schools.
During the truce, which was in effect from early April to October, Mwatana documented approximately 14 indiscriminate ground attacks, which claimed the lives of at least four civilians, including one woman and three children, and wounded at least 35 civilians, including four women and 22 children. The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group bears responsibility for five of these attacks in Hodeidah, Taiz, and Al-Dhale’e governorates. Ground forces of Saudi Arabia are responsible for six attacks in Sa’ada and Hajjah governorates, and forces of the internationally recognized government of Yemen are responsible for two attacks in Marib and Shabwa governorates. The Shabwa Defense Forces committed one attack in Shabwa governorate.
Recently, there has been an increase in the use of booby-trapped drones by the parties to the conflict, causing a number of civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects.
During the truce, which started in early April, Mwatana documented nearly six drone attacks, which claimed the lives of at least six civilians, including two children, and wounded at least 13 civilians, including six women and six children. The Ansar Allah group (Houthis) bears responsibility for four of these attacks in Hodeidah, Taiz, Marib, and Amanat Al-Asimah governorates. Government forces are responsible for one attack in Al-Dhale’e governorate. The Joint Forces on the West Coast committed one attack in Hodeidah governorate.
Attacks on health facilities and personnel
During the truce period, Mwatana verified eight incidents of attacks on medical facilities and personnel. Most of these incidents were armed incursions into medical facilities and threats and assaults against medical staff working there. In addition, three incidents involving live ammunition occurred, killing two adults and wounding two others, including a woman.
Government forces bear responsibility for seven of these incidents in Taiz, Shabwa, and Lahj governorates. Government forces and the Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group are jointly responsible for one incident in Taiz governorate, where the Houthi armed group bombed a hospital occupied by government forces.
Attacks on schools
During the truce period, Mwatana documented 21 attacks that targeted or affected schools and educational facilities, including 20 incidents of occupation and use for military purposes and one incident of ground shelling.
The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group is responsible for all these incidents, which occurred in Taiz, Raymah, Amanat Al-Asimah (Sana’a), Ibb, Amran, and Sa’ada governorates.
Child recruitment and use
During the truce, Mwatana documented the recruitment and use of at least 14 children, including one girl. The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group bears responsibility for nearly 84% of these incidents of child recruitment and use, which were concentrated in Sa’ada governorate. The UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council is responsible for recruiting 8% of these incidents, while the Saudi/UAE-led coalition forces are responsible for 8%.
Denial of humanitarian access
During the truce period, Mwatana documented at least 32 incidents of warring parties denying access to humanitarian aid; most involved obstruction of access to humanitarian aid and personnel, as well as interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities or looting of relief items.
The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group bears responsibility for 15 of these incidents. Government forces are responsible for eight incidents. The Joint Forces committed seven incidents, while the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council is responsible for two incidents.
Arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and torture
During the truce period, Mwatana documented the arbitrary detention of 126 civilians, the enforced disappearance of 72 civilians, and the torture of 25 others. The torture led to the death of 10 civilians, including seven migrants.
The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group is responsible for the arbitrary detention of 73 civilians, including a child and a woman. The UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council arbitrarily detained 24 civilians, including nine children. Government forces bear responsibility for arbitrarily detaining 19 civilians, including one child. The Joint Forces are responsible for arbitrarily detaining nine civilians. The Giants Forces in Shabwa governorate arbitrarily detained one civilian.
Mwatana also documented the enforced disappearance of 30 civilians by the Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group, 16 civilians by government forces, 14 civilians by the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council, six civilians by the Joint Forces, five civilians by the Shabwa Defense Forces, and one civilian by the Hadhrami Elite Forces.
With regard to incidents of torture, the Southern Transitional Council is responsible for eight cases of torture, as a result of which three civilian victims died. Saudi border guards are responsible for torturing and killing seven civilian migrants, who were beaten, electrocuted and tortured to death. Government forces bear responsibility for torturing six civilians. The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group tortured three civilians. The Saudi/UAE-led coalition forces are responsible for torturing one civilian.
Incidents of landmine explosions increased in comparison to last year’s incidents documented by Mwatana, especially with the start of the truce, when some areas were opened up for civilians to return to their homes near the front lines without first demining those areas.
During the truce period, Mwatana documented at least 52 incidents of landmine explosions, most of which took place in Al Hodeidah governorate. These incidents claimed the lives of at least 31 civilians, including 12 children and one woman, and injured at least 78 civilians, including 50 children and two women. The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group is responsible for 46 of these incidents.
Other attacks on civilians
During the truce period, Mwatana for Human Rights documented 6 incidents where civilians were run over by military vehicles, which resulted in the killing of three civilians, including one child, and the injury of seven civilians, including three children and one woman. The forces of the Southern Transitional Council are responsible for four of these incidents in Abyan governorate. The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group is responsible for one incident in Ibb governorate, and Sudanese armed forces are responsible for one incident in Hajjah governorate.
During the truce, Mwatana also documented 27 incidents involving live ammunition that caused the death of seven civilians, including three children and one woman, and the injury of 24 civilians, including 12 children and five women, in Taiz, Abyan, Sa’ada, Shabwa, Lahj, Hodeidah, Ibb, and Al-Dhale’e governorates.
Food insecurity is considered the biggest challenge in Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, which may exacerbate and reach catastrophic levels considering the high prices of basic foodstuffs resulting from the Russian-Ukrainian war’s impact on food supplies. Yemen is a country that depends entirely on food imports from abroad. The war in Ukraine has also contributed to diverting the international community’s attention from the conflict in Yemen, considered at the international level the worst humanitarian crisis in decades.
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