The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report on the situation of human rights in Yemen. The report enumerates the violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen since September 2014, when the Houthi-Saleh coup against the legitimate government began. Civilians face indiscriminate and targeted military attacks, arbitrary and illegal arrest and detention, restricted access to humanitarian aid, and a devastating blockade that smothers the economy. Furthermore, violators throughout Yemen are committing such offenses with total impunity.
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.
Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council during last Tuesday’s Council meeting on Yemen. O’Brien spoke of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, warning that the situation there had become the world’s largest food security crisis and that lack of access to food and clean water created the conditions for the cholera epidemic. While he lauded the United Nations and its partners, along with medical personnel in Yemen, for their work to stem the spread of cholera and other diseases, he criticized the parties to the conflict for putting their own interests above the needs of the Yemeni people, explaining that both lack of access to food and disease are, in the case of Yemen, man-made phenomena that could be avoided if the parties were willing to negotiate an end the conflict.
On this episode we revisit three of the most important interviews we've broadcast since the beginning of Yemen's internationalized armed conflict in March of this year: Nadwa al-Dawsari on the conflict in Marib, Alex Potter on Yemeni refugees and life during wartime in San‘a, and Professor Muneer Ahmed on the conflict's impact on al-Hudaydah and the Tihamah.
Editor's note: I'm filling in for Mohammed Ali Kalfood on this week's press review. Mohammed will return next week. Since launching a major counteroffensive against pro-Houthi/Saleh forces last week, resistance forces in Aden have swept down from the city's northern areas into the districts of Sirah/Crater, al-Ma'ala, and al-Tawahi. As of Monday evening, local sources report that the resistance has control of al-Tawahi--the last district held by Houthi/Saleh forces--and is conducting house-to-house searches for remaining enemy fighters.
In retaliation for the loss of Aden, Houthi/Saleh forces outside the city limits have been shelling the neighborhood of Dar Sa'd since Sunday. According to Medicins Sans Frontieres, at least 100 people--mostly civilians, including women and children--have died in the bombardment, with hundreds more injured.
The transportation minister of Yemen's government in exile told press on Monday that a technical team from the UAE had arrived in Aden to repair the city's international airport. Right now San'a has the only functioning airport in the country, making it impossible for aid groups to bring supplies into the south by air.
On Thursday, a group of ministers from the exiled government of President Hadi arrived in Aden, escorted by Saudi security forces. The ministers reportedly met with resistance leaders. Following those meetings, President Hadi announced the appointment of Aden's new governor, former deputy governor Nayef al-Bakri, who recently has served as the head of a body representing several resistance groups.
On Sunday, a Saudi airstrike killed 24 civilians in Ibb, and set off secondary explosions that wounded many more.
The UN's refugee agency reported last week that more than 10,000 refugees have arrived in Yemen from east Africa since March. Smugglers are apparently telling refugees that the war in Yemen is over in order to profit from their transport. According to UNHCR, the total number of Yemenis displaced inside the country or seeking refuge abroad is now 1,267,590.
If you follow the YPP on Twitter or Facebook, you've probably seen me mention the House of Light Foundation recently. House of Light is a local organization based in Aden; we've worked with HoL's founders, Sahar and Alaa, on a few projects over the years. Right now we're helping them raise money to provide clean clothes and hygiene products to Adeni women who, along with their families, have been displaced from their homes by the fierce fighting and airstrikes in and around Aden. Thanks to several generous donors in the US and Europe, we've been able to send $2,000 to HoL so far. They've raised even more from local donors, enough to provide aid packages to 200 women. To thank everyone who has donated to HoL via our campaign page so far, and to encourage others to give, I want to share some photos that Sahar just sent me from Aden. In these you can see some of the colorful dresses that Sahar's grandmother has sewn (she makes kid-sized dresses with the fabric remnants), along with the soap and sanitary pads that are also included in each aid package. For House of Light, this campaign is a family affair; below you can see Sahar's mother and young cousin helping to prepare packages for the second group of 100 displaced women.
We're proud to help House of Light make a difference in the lives of displaced women and their families, and it's exciting to see the first 100 aid packages head out the door. But we're only starting to scrape the surface. With your gift, we can help our friends at House of Light do much more. Read more about this campaign here.
If you're outside the US and the above widget doesn't work for you, you can also donate via Paypal:
The plight of the people of Abyan Governorate, which lies along the southern coast of Yemen north-east of 'Aden, has been under-reported of late. In May the US media leaped at the story that al-Qa‘idah fighters had captured the provincial capital of Zinjibar, because the US media will print anything that has to do with al-Qa‘idah. But save an excellent piece last week in the LA Times, coverage of the growing humanitarian crisis in Abyan has been almost non-existant. I don't blame the press, or anyone else, really, for this oversight. It's very, very difficult to get reliable information from San‘a and Ta‘iz--Yemen's most accessible cities--these days, even for those of us who spend most of our time trying to do exactly that. Aden and Abyan haven't seen a foreign journalist since February, as far as I know, and have much lower internet penetration than those other parts of the country. It's no one's fault that we can't get up-to-the minute news about the thousands of people fleeing ongoing fighting between militants and security forces in Abyan. But thanks to the work of dedicated Yemeni activists, we do have some concrete information, and now that we have it, we have to do something about it.
We know this:
- Low-intensity warfare continues, not just in Zinjibar but throughout Abyan. Casualties can't be counted; more horrifying, casualties can't even be collected. The sparse reports that get out say that bodies are lying in the streets, feeding the ubiquitous southern crows. Amateur footage that I'm not going to link to here shows the bodies of soldiers, charred and obliterated, beside the blackened wrecks of armored vehicles. Civilian casualties, and those of the anti-government militants, are certainly more extensive.
- At least 30,000 civilians have fled Abyan for Lahj and 'Aden. Many have been taken in by friends and relatives; others are squatting or camping out on the road.
- At least one formal IDP camp has been established in Khormaksar District, 'Aden. YPP is in touch with a well-known activist and volunteer in 'Aden, who has personally visited the camp and transmitted to us a camp census and list of needs.
- The Khormaksar camp holds at present 1,342 people, of which 124 are under the age of three and 441 are under the age of fifteen.
Our contact in 'Aden, who heads a foundation called House of Light, is prepared to begin purchasing supplies from a list given him by the camp managers. Items include basic foodstuffs, diapers, clothes, and medicines. We at YPP have pledged our support to House of Light for this purpose. We are calling on all of our friends and readers to help us fund the operations of the Khormaksar camp by sending donations to YPP or shopping at our Revolution Webstore (all proceeds go directly to Yemen).
We will provide updates and further details on the situation in Abyan as they become available.
One final note: official US policy has always been to support the Saleh regime's violent repression of all protest movements in the south, as these might possibly be aligned with AQAP. As the current violence in Abyan is directly linked to AQAP, we can expect the United States to be absolutely silent, even on the humanitarian dimension. Go ahead, Secretary Clinton, prove me wrong.