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
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.
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:
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.