April 19-25: ACLED reports 10K combat deaths since November, Houthis gain ground in al-Dhali'

Friday, April 19

The Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project (ACLED) reports that more than 70,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s civil war since January 2016. The database that tracks violence in the country also reported that 10,000 deaths of the 70,000 have come in the past five months. While casualties in Hudaydah have decreased this year, they have increased in governorates including al-Jawf, Ta’iz, Hajjah, and al-Dhali’. The Saudi-led coalition is responsible for the majority of civilian deaths “from direct targeting.”

The Saudi-led coalition conducted air raids on a facility allegedly housing drones near the presidential palace in San’a.

Oxfam has warned that Yemen is at risk of a “massive resurgence” of cholera. This year there have been 195,00 suspected cases. Lack of access to clean water and healthcare has allowed the spread of cholera to accelerate.

Saturday, April 20

On Saturday evening the Houthis announced the death of their interior minister. A source in San’a told The National that there is no clear information regarding his death and that it is a “mystery.” Official statements from Ansar Allah claim that he died while receiving medical care in Lebanon.

The National reports that both Houthi forces and pro-coalition forces made gains in different parts of al-Dhali’. A spokesperson for the Security Belt Forces claimed that a mutiny within the pro-government 30th Armored Brigade and the surrender of tribal leaders in al-Awd are part of a “big conspiracy” which has benefited the Houthis in the area. Houthi advances were also reported in contested parts of Ibb Governorate.

Sunday, April 21

The National reports that the Houthis prevented an Emirates Red Crescent relief convoy from providing aid in the al-Durayhimi district in eastern Hudaydah. It is also reported that some citizens in this area were being used as human shields by the Houthis.

The National Organization of Yemeni Media (SADA) issued a report calling San’a “the most dangerous [place] for journalists and media” with a reported 4,248 violations against the press in the last year. Violations include murder, abduction, assault, and enforced disappearances.

Monday, April 22

‘Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthi movement, stated that the Houthis have missile capabilities that could reach “target strategic, vital, sensitive and influential targets in the event of any escalation in Hodeidah.” Some of these locations, as indicated by al-Houthi, include Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.

Human Rights Watch said that the use of landmines by the Houthis is responsible for killing civilians, blocking aid, and preventing displaced families from returning to their homes. According to a new report, more than 140 people have been killed in Ta’iz and Hudaydah since 2018 because of the landmines.

Tuesday, April 23

Al-Masdar Online reports that according to Doctors Without Borders, five civilians were killed and 91 injured in clashes between security forces and the Abu al-Abbas brigades in the old city of Ta’iz over the past five days.

Al Monitor discusses Oman’s position as a diplomatic arbiter in Yemen. In contrast to the other GCC countries, Oman has remained neutral throughout the course of the war, and has thus far been an effective mediator. Coalition states and the Southern Transitional Council, however, view Oman’s involvement with suspicion because of Oman’s relationship with Iran. Furthermore, Oman’s normalized relations with the Houthis, while contributing to successful mediation and regarded positively by government and Houthi officials, has contributed to the growth of tensions between Oman and the coalition, which could undermine Oman’s role in the mediation process going forward.

Senator Bernie Sanders has been vocal this week in urging congress to override President Trump’s veto of S.J.Res.7, which would have ended US military support for the war in Yemen. The Senate is expected to take up the veto next week.

According to a report from the UN Development Programme, the conflict in Yemen has reversed human development by 21 years. Further, if the conflict were to continue through 2030, human development would be set back by 40 years. Moreover, the UNDP Yemen Resident Representative emphasized that “human development has not just been interrupted. It has been reversed.” The UNDP’s report also states that the war will have been responsible for almost a quarter of a million deaths by the end of this year.

The Aden branch of Yemen’s central bank said it was ready to sell banks foreign currency at a rate of 506 rials to the US dollar or at market rates. This foreign currency would cover letters of credit and financing guarantees for imports of goods not covered by the recent $2 billion grant from Saudi Arabia. The exchange rate before the war began was roughly 240 rials to the dollar.

A US State Department spokesperson is calling for the release of all followers of the Baha'i faith that have been detained on “baseless” charges by the Houthis. Although the Baha'i faith originated in Iran, it is currently opposed by the government in Iran, and its members have been targeted as a result.

Wednesday, April 24

At least 5,000 migrants have been detained over the past ten days for trying to cross the Saudi border, and are being held in Aden. The migrants have launched a hunger strike and authorities are seeking assistance from the UN migration agency and aid groups. Despite the ongoing war, migrants from the Horn of Africa continue to enter Yemen. Last year, more irregular migrants entered Yemen than entered the European Union states. Investigators have previously found that government officials have been involved in human trafficking, and in holding migrants for ransom in facilities where migrants are subjected to torture and rape.

Thursday, April 25

A report by the Brookings Institution brings attention to the Yemeni diaspora that has thus far been overlooked by the international community. Going forward they should be considered partners in policy-making regarding Yemen, the author recommends.

A vulture with a tracking device from the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora came down in the city of Ta’iz. Government-aligned forces believed the tracking device may have been a spy device for the Houthis, and the vulture was detained. The vulture was in bad condition, as it was not able to find any sources of sustenance in Yemen. However, it is expected regain full strength in the coming months.