Last week, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced the details of a plan to effectively remove the governorate of al-Hudaydah from the Yemeni civil war. The plan does far more than propose a ceasefire for the vital port city; it also includes the payment of salaries to civil servants, and spells out the role of the international community. If implemented, the “al-Hudaydah Plan” could serve as a model for a nation-wide peace agreement. The Government of President Hadi and the Government of Egypt have reportedly announced their support for the plan, it is not yet clear whether any of the other warring parties will agree to the plan. Below is the YPP’s English translation of the plan, as presented by the UN Special Envoy to the Arab League.
Yemen’s cholera cases have passed the 300,000 mark, according to the ICRC. Though the daily growth rate of the epidemic has halved, outbreaks in new areas have spread rapidly. Yemen’s economic collapse means over 30,000 healthcare workers remain unpaid, and the UN has stepped in with “incentive” payments as part of an emergency campaign.
Doctors Without Borders published an article detailing the conditions of a hospital in Abs as it attempts to deal with the cholera epidemic.
A UK high court ruled that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are lawful despite concerns from multiple human rights organizations.
WASHINGTON, DC - Last week, the US House of Representatives passed three amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would provide much-needed transparency into the performance of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and potentially end US participation in the civil war. The coalition, to which the US has provided arms, refueling, and targeting assistance without congressional authorization, has created a humanitarian disaster in Yemen. The Yemen Peace Project (YPP) applauds the House’s decision and calls on the Senate to also adopt these three provisions.
The United Nations Security Council convened on Wednesday for a meeting to address the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien addressed the Council, emphasizing the food security crisis and the cholera outbreak in Yemen. He stressed that the Yemeni health system has collapsed, pointing to the facts that 65% of health facilities in the country have closed and that 30,000 health workers have not received their salaries in nearly a year. He also noted that UNOCHA’s Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is only 33% funded. Finally, he called for more serious international action to hold the parties to the conflict accountable for violations of international humanitarian law and to demand the opening of the airport in San’a and the protection of the port in al-Hudaydah
The Yemen Peace Project (YPP) calls on Members of Congress to support a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment that prohibits unconditionally refueling the Saudi-led coalition’s warplanes in northern and western Yemen. The coalition uses these planes to conduct airstrikes targeting civilians and critical infrastructure in Yemen, violating international humanitarian law (IHL) and perpetuating a conflict with no possible military solution. The Saudi-led coalition’s attacks have killed thousands of civilians and left millions in need of humanitarian aid, food assistance, and medical help. The United States cannot continue to aid and abet the coalition’s violations of IHL by refuel coalition warplanes unconditionally. Through this amendment, Congress can provide oversight of and introduce transparency into the process of refueling coalition missions.
On March 16th, 2017, more than 38 civilians were killed in a U.S. airstrike shortly before the night prayer at a mosque in al-Jinah area in Aleppo, Syria. While the airstrike was conducted to hit an Al-Qaeda meeting, the U.S. Central Command approved the strike without having a correct estimation of possible civilian casualties or accurate intelligence about the nature of the to-be-targeted building. Brigadier General Bontrager described the airstrike in a recent press briefing as “frustrating” and denied the Pentagon had any prior knowledge that the targeted building had a religious purpose.
The Washington Institute published a report detailing the nature of al-Qaeda’s robustness in the face of evolving geopolitical challenges, such as the rise of the so called Islamic State and the increased intensity of United States counterterrorism operations. The 124-page report discusses the nature of al-Qaeda outside of Syria and the group’s finances.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies published in May 2017 a detailed analysis of the conflict in Yemen that closely examines the humanitarian catastrophe and outlines the necessities for sustainable peace. The civil war in Yemen has led to an economic collapse, massive destruction of infrastructure and civil institutions, and a health crisis. The author argues that a military victory or ceasefire won’t be sufficient for recovery or peace. In order to move to stable postwar development efforts, Yemen must be truly united under a modern central government that can effectively govern and focus on recovery, bolstered by international aid. The US must prioritize nation-building as it seeks a solution to the civil war, otherwise it risks a devastating relapse into conflict.
In its press release dated June 24, Mwatana Organization for Human Rights reported on gross violations of human rights committed by the Houthi movement--also known as Ansar Allah--in detention centers under their control. The report investigated approximately 30 cases of torture taking place in private detention centers and interrogation rooms where Houthis have reportedly adopted torture as a tool for interrogating detainees and denied access to medical care.
This week, the State Department published its 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, which ranks governments on their efforts to combat human trafficking. Yemen is classified as a Special Case in the report because of the increased difficulties in obtaining information about human trafficking due to the ongoing war. The conflict in Yemen has intensified the magnitude of violence and lawlessness in the country while hindering the government’s ability to address and prevent human trafficking. The violence and accompanying economic and humanitarian crises have left significant numbers of people vulnerable to human trafficking, whether it takes the form of forced labor, sexual exploitation, or underage military recruitment:
The recent diplomatic crisis between several Arab states, headed by Saudi Arabia, and Qatar has caused ripples across the region and the world. Yemen, the site of military interventions by both Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has been particularly affected as Qatari troops withdraw from the country and certain Salafi elements protest Saudi tactics. Gabriele vom Bruck, senior lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, penned an analysis in Le Monde Diplomatique about the Saudi-Qatari rift, entitled “Qatar crisis: Saudi Arabia as anti-hero?” highlighting the significance of the spat for Yemen.
Reports by the Associated Press (AP) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have revealed a network of extralegal prisons run by the United Arab Emirates and UAE-backed forces in southern Yemen. These prisons reportedly house people suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State. Both the AP and HRW have found evidence of widespread abuse by security forces, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and widespread torture. Disturbingly, there are indications that US military personnel have been aware of--and possibly involved in--the torture and abuse of Yemeni prisoners. Former prisoners and Yemeni soldiers told the AP that US forces had been present in prisons while inmates were being tortured, and US officials told the AP that US forces provide questions to and receive interrogation transcripts from UAE and Yemeni authorities at these prisons. The YPP condemns the illegal and inhuman behavior described in these reports, and calls on the US Congress to investigate the involvement of US personnel in these abuses.
The Associated Press (AP), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, a Yemeni NGO, have all published reports detailing gross human rights violations in extralegal prisons run by UAE-backed forces in southern Yemen. Emirati special forces established these sites as a part of their fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the so-called Islamic State (IS). Each report details widespread abuses occurring in the prisons, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and rampant torture. HRW reports that at least four children have been detained in these prisons. Mwatana has also recorded at least one instance in which prison authorities tortured a child, and at least one other incident in which a detainee died as a result of torture in a UAE facility. The father of a child who was tortured provided the following testimony to Mwatana:
Monday, June 19
Abdul-Raqib Saif Fath, Yemen’s minister of local administration, stated that Houthi forces and their allies have been blocking humanitarian aid from entering Yemen. The minister alleged that Houthi militias have previously burned trucks carrying humanitarian cargo, and in other cases they have allegedly blocked dozens of aid ships and have stolen aid supplies. These actions are regarded as violations of international humanitarian law and raise the concerns of the international community, the minister stressed.
Drone strikes have become an inevitable part of warfare over the past decade. However, accountability and transparency have not. According to the new report Out of the Shadows, the lack of transparency in US targeted killing operations increases ill will towards the United States, undermines the advancement of human rights and rule of law, and decreases American credibility. The harm this causes is counterproductive to American strategy abroad and causes untold amounts of human misery, and yet, a lack of accountability persists. While greater transparency is not a panacea to resolve these issues, it does matter to the families of the victims, to the voting public of the United States, and to international partners who rely on the United States.
Saferworld, along with the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and the Yemen Polling Center (YPC), has released a report analyzing how the conflict in Yemen affects the lives of the country’s women. It finds that although the war brings great insecurity about livelihoods and security, many women feel empowered by their new roles in war efforts or peacebuilding, such as first aid, child protection, and psychosocial support. Despite restrictions and anxieties, Yemeni women have made important contributions to civil society. The report recommends that the international community support these women-led initiatives financially and institutionally.
On Monday, 19 June 2017, the Yemen Peace Project, along with 10 other humanitarian and human rights organizations, released a joint statement commending the UN Security Council presidential statement on Yemen. The statement urges the UNSC to turn their words into action to end Yemen's suffering and find an immediate political solution to the conflict.
The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies has published an article attempting to accurately depict Iran’s involvement in the Yemeni conflict. The author, Farea al-Muslimi, points out that, while Iran is in fact supporting the Houthis in some capacity, the Saudi response has been disproportionate compared to the scale of Iranian commitment. He argues that Iran’s support for the Houthis is an attempt to force the Saudis into yet another conflict, thereby weakening the Saudi government’s military and financial capacity as a whole.