101 Organisations Working in and on Yemen Urge Immediate Action

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

Joint Open Letter to the UN Security Council Representatives

The conflict in Yemen will enter into its eighth year tomorrow, and civilians continue  to bear the brunt of the fighting. Unlawful attacks are destroying lives and livelihoods, driving widespread displacement, and decimating public infrastructure and the  economy, creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. 

Yet the violence, and violations, are only escalating, exacting a devastating toll on civilians. Since the United Nations Human Rights Council’s vote in October to dismantle the Group of Eminent Experts, the sole international, independent accountability  mechanism working on Yemen, civilian casualties and unlawful attacks against civilian infrastructure, have almost doubled.  

January saw the highest civilian casualties since our record began in 2018, with al most one civilian killed or injured every hour. Airstrikes in early January destroyed 4  schools, 5 hospitals and clinics, 21 telecommunications towers and one water reservoir that served 120,000 people.  

One of the worst set of attacks in the history of the conflict took place on 20/21  January killing 93 people, injuring another 236, and destroying a telecommunications  hub, plummeting the country into a nationwide internet black out, disconnecting  Yemen from the rest of the world and disrupting humanitarian operational communications for four days. Likewise, 40 civilians were killed and 75 were injured in shelling  incidents, which continue to threaten the lives of more than 1.5 million people in Marib. 

Without a strong international, independent accountability mechanism in place,  there is no incentive for warring parties to adhere to the rules of war, let alone broker peace. The dangerous legacy of unexploded ordinances and landmines not only  increases the daily risk of civilians being killed or maimed, but also threatens plans  for Yemen’s stabilisation and long-term recovery.  

On the other hand, increasingly, the conflict is being waged through economic  means, but having a direct and disproportionate impact on civilians. Restrictions on  fuel entering the Hodeidah port have resulted in wide-reaching shortages and sky rocketing black market prices. Millions of families are struggling to survive; with the  economy collapsed and inflation putting basic goods further out of reach of ordinary  people.  

Humanitarian access is being used as a bargaining chip. Permission for lifesaving  programming continues to be denied or delayed for months. The obstruction of aid  by parties to the conflict is exacerbating the country’s dire humanitarian situation. In  September, the Yemeni human rights group Mwatana and Global Rights Compliance  found that conduct by the Saudi Led Coalition and Ansar Allah severely impeded  civilians’ access to food and water, effectively using starvation as a weapon of war, in  violation of international humanitarian law. 

Interference by authorities also risks compromising humanitarian principles, including independence, setting a dangerous international precedent, and makes reaching  and understanding the needs of marginalised communities even harder. Persons with  disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, migrants, displaced populations, women,  children and the elderly are often cut off from relief despite being disproportionately  impacted by the insecurity. Mitigating against that risk, takes time and energy from  aid actors that should go towards the affected population.

The year 2022 is the time for global leaders to action their commitments and responsibilities on Yemen. The international community’s empathy should be translated into concrete actions. Millions of innocent children and their families can  no longer be a pawn in a politicised conflict.  

  • We call on UNSC members to directly engage with all parties to the  conflict and urge them to abide by international humanitarian law, international human rights law and the mine ban treaty as well as to ensure immediate  and unhindered access for humanitarian organisations and agencies  to ensure delivery of life-saving services to the millions of people who  most need it. This includes championing the need for resolution of bureaucratic  impediments, including delayed and denied project approvals. We remind Mem ber States that measures taken to counterterrorism must comply with their  obligations under IHL (UNSC Resolution 2482), and that counterterrorism  measures and sanctions should not have adverse humanitarian consequences  for the civilian population. 
  • We further call for the protection of civilians to be prioritised with in the escalating hostilities. States, that have direct influence over parties  to the conflict, should champion adherence to fundamental obligations under  international law, including reminding them that civilian infrastructure is not a  military objective, nor should be used for military purposes, and that non-tar get lists must be updated. Moreover, we appeal to all states to immediately halt  arms transfers and military support to all parties of the conflict. 
  • We demand an end to impunity and call for Members States not to  block reinstatement of an international, independent accountability  mechanism to monitor ongoing violations and abuses and hold those  involved to account. This includes state leaders stepping up to champion such  a cause, and states from all regions taking a principled stance to end impunity  for international crimes [including those aiding and assisting such crimes], and  in the interim, increasing funding to support the UN’s Monitoring and Reporting  Mechanism on Children and Armed Conflict and Office of the High Commis sioner for Human Rights.  
  • To be able to continue providing lifesaving services, we call for increased  financial support to the most underfunded parts of the response,  particularly education and protection, and for you to work with us all to hold  the international response architecture, including the Humanitarian Coordinator, UN Special Envoy and others to account for their performance, delivery of  strategy and feedback to civil society.  
  • Last but not least, we urge the UNSC to do everything in its power to ensure  the protection of humanitarian workers and local organisations. Kidnappings, hijacking of cars, and attacks on humanitarian sites continue, and local  civil society organisations are particularly vulnerable to threats of incarceration  and coercion. 

Although this crisis may not be dominating news headlines, the people of Yemen  deserve better. There is not a moment to lose. The world cannot continue to look on  shamelessly while millions of civilians in Yemen continue to suffer on a daily basis. 

Signatories:

ACTED | Abs Development Organization for Woman and Child | Action Against  Hunger | ADRA | Advance Foundation for Development | Airwars | Aspiring Communities  Together (ACT Sheffield) | Balkees Granddaughter Organization | Bassma Foundation  for Development and Rights | Bidaya Youth Foundation | Build it Up Incubator for Social  Enterprise | Building Foundation for Development | Cairo Institute for Human Rights  Studies | Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) | CARE International | Children’s  Parliament | Civil Society Coalition for Peace | Civilians in Conflict | Dameer for Rights and  Liberties | Danish Refugee Council | Democracy School | Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe |  Direct Aid | Emergency | Equality Foundation for Rights and Freedoms | Esnad Foundation  for Development | Defense for Children International — Yemen | Ethra Development  Organization | Fida International | Future Feminist Foundation for Development | Geneva  Call | Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect | Global Communities | Handicap  International – Humanity & Inclusion | Harmony Foundation for Development | Himaya  Foundation for Social Cohesion | Hodaida Girls Foundation for Development | Human  Appeal | Human Life Foundation | I Am for My Country Foundation | Improve Your Society  Organization | Injaz for Development | International Rescue Committee | INTERSOS | Itisal  for Development | Jude Foundation for Sustainable Development | Jusoor Foundation  for Coexistence | Kayan Foundation for Peace and Development | Masaq Organization  for Development | Mawred for Development and Human Rights | Medair | Medecins  du Monde | Mercy Corps | Musaala Organization for Human Rights | Mwatana for  Human Rights | National Prisoners Foundation | Norwegian People’s Aid | Norwegian  Refugee Council | NYCMedics | Oxfam | Partners Yemen | Peace and Building Foundation  | Peace School | Polish Humanitarian Action | Première Urgence Internationale | Pure  Hands | Qatar Charity | Qudrah Organization for Sustainable Development | Rafed  Foundation for Rights, Liberties and Protection | Relief & Development Peer Foundation  (RDP) | Relief International | Right Foundation for Human Rights | Saba Kingdom for  Development | Sada Foundation for Building and Development | SAM for Rights and  Liberties | Saferworld | Samaritan’s Purse | Save the Children | Search for Common Ground  | Secours Islamique France | Shadow World Investigations | Sheba Youth Foundation  for Development | Solidarites International | Take my Hand Charitable Foundation |  Tamdeen Youth Foundation | Tearfund | The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society | Together  We Rise Foundation for Women and Child Care | Vision Hope International | Wama  Organization for Development and Human Rights | War Child UK | Watch for  Human Rights | Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Sweden |  Yemeni Community Association in Sandwell | Yemeni Community Association of Greater  Manchester | Yemeni Development Network for NGOs | Youth Beginning for Sustainable  Development | Youth Empowerment Foundation for Development | Youth Forum for  Peacebuilding | Youth Unity Association | ZOA


All data, unless otherwise referenced, is from the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project, a service of the Protection Cluster Yemen. Civilian Impact Monitor ing Project, Protection Cluster Yemen, accessed 2 March 2022 https://civilianimpactmonitoring.org

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