March 8-14: Civilian death toll rises in Hajjah, Senate passes war powers bill

Friday, March 8

People are protesting for a fourth day in Aden after Raafat Danbaa, who allegedly witnessed the rape of a seven-year-old boy by UAE-backed fighters, was found dead. The Yemeni government has set up a committee to investigate his death. The UAE has faced numerous accusations of various human rights abuses since taking control of southern Yemen.

In the al-Durayhimi area of Hudaydah, fighting broke out between Houthi and coalition forces. A coalition officer reported that the Houthis prompted the attack and that this was the second attack in 24 hours. Sporadic fighting has taken place since the Stockholm agreement, preventing the successful withdrawal of forces from Hudaydah.

Saudi Arabia shot down a drone that was flying over the kingdom. The Saudi-led coalition accused the Houthis of launching the drone and using it to target civilians.

Sunday, March 10

UNICEF says it has started paying over 136,000 teachers and school staff in Yemen. UNICEF believes an estimated 3.7 million children will benefit from this as 2 million out of 7 million school-aged children are already out of school because of the conflict and economic crisis.

Monday, March 11

Pro-Hadi news source Yemen Now tweeted on the Hadi government’s displeasure with the UN’s perceived silence concerning Houthi attacks on civilians in Hajjah province.

The Women’s Solidarity Network posted a statement on their Facebook page calling for humanitarian action in response to the intensification of conflict in the areas of Yemen not covered by the Stockholm agreements, such as the Kushar district of Hajjah.

There have been over 5,000 cases of child recruitment since the beginning of the conflict, according to a non-government source. The article also states that around 4 million children have been prevented from receiving an education due to the destruction of schools and infrastructure during the conflict.

Al-Masdar Online discusses water access issues in the city of Ta’iz. This article, citing a report from Al Jazeera, states that Houthi forces control the city’s main source of water east of Ta’iz and have been restricting access to water as part of a siege on the city. Meanwhile, qat farmers to the west of Ta’iz require large amounts of water for their fields and use a significant portion of the available water resources, leaving little for the city’s residents.

Aden al-Ghad reports that all communication systems in the Hajur tribal area have been cut off by the Houthis. This action was followed by two days of large-scale destruction of civilian homes in the area, according to journalist Faisal al-Shababi.

Tuesday, March 12

A prominent Yemeni Baha’i leader, Hamed bin Haydara, was sentenced to death in a Houthi court for espionage and apostasy charges. The international community is concerned that the Houthis are purposely targeting the religious minority group. Over 100 Baha’is are being held on false charges.

Twelve children and ten women were killed following Saudi-led airstrikes in Hajjah Governorate, while thirty people were injured. The strikes were intended to target Houthi forces attacking tribal fighters and civilians in the area.

A UN humanitarian agency has stated that Hajjah province has become another flashpoint in the country’s civil war. The district of Kushar in Hajjah province is only 31 miles from the Saudi border. The ongoing fighting has trapped civilians between the warring parties and the number of displaced people has doubled in the past six months.

The UN Security Council is urging Yemen’s warring parties to implement the peace deal in Hudaydah. The five permanent members released a statement saying they were “extremely concerned” that the agreement in Stockholm had not been implemented.

Al-Masdar Online reports that clashes erupted Sunday evening between tribal gunmen and Saudi forces in al-Mahrah province. Tribal elements in the area reportedly oppose the Saudi military presence in the province.

Baseem al-Jenani reports on continued shelling by the Houthis in Hudaydah, which continue to hinder the progress of Stockholm agreement implementations.

Aden 24 reports that Saudi-funded mine removal teams removed over 2,000 mines and pieces of unexploded ordnance in the first week of March.

Wednesday, March 13

The Senate passed S.J.Res.7, a war powers measure to end US military participation in the war in Yemen. The measure will now go to the House, where a similar piece of legislation passed last month. President Trump has promised to veto S.J.Res.7 if it passes the House as expected.

The Yemeni government has accused the Houthis of committing “acts of genocide” against civilians in Hajjah province. Yemen’s information minister states that the Houthis are using heavy weaponry, including ballistic missiles, to target civilian homes. The fighting has persisted for more than a month and thousands of civilians are unable to flee and lack access to basic necessities.

Amnesty International reports that several children have been sexually abused in the city of Ta'iz over the past eight months. Some of these crimes were committed by members of a coalition-backed, pro-Islah militia. The report calls on the Yemeni government to investigate these crimes and to protect the children and their families from militia retaliation.

Thursday, March 14

TeleYemen, Yemen’s largest telecommunications company, has relocated to Aden and is back under the government’s control. TeleYemen was previously headquartered in San’a, which gave the Houthis exclusive rights to provide international communications access. According to the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information, private telecommunications companies operating out of San’a are indirectly financing the Houthis’ war efforts through taxes. Between 2014 and 2017 the Houthis received $2 billion from telecommunication companies. The ministry is taking action to combat this.

Al-Masdar Online discusses the disconnect between the Central Bank of Yemen recognized by the international community, located in government-controlled Aden, and the San’a-based Central Bank that has fallen under Houthi control since their takeover of the city. While the official headquarters of the Central Bank was moved to Aden by the Hadi government in 2016, the San’a-based banking system now controlled by the Houthis continues to function, controlling currency exchange points and ATMs, often under policies which conflict with those instituted by the government in Aden. The article illuminates how this discrepancy contributes to the instability of the Yemeni financial system.

An article from al-Masdar Online discusses a protest today by the Mothers of Abductees Association in Ibb province. The protest was held to draw attention to the practice of blackmailing abductees’ families by Houthi militias in the area.