Oral intervention on Yemen at the UN Human Rights Council 38th Session

In International Advocacy Program, United Nations Human Rights Council by CIHRS

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies delivered an oral statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council 38th session held in Geneva in June, deteriorating situation in Yemen.

UN Human Rights Council:  38th Session
Oral Intervention:  Item 2- GD, Update by the High Commissioner
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
19 June, 2018

Delivered by:  Jeremie Smith

Mr. President, Mr. High Commissioner,

The situation in Yemen continues to constitute the largest humanitarian crises in the world and is entirely “man made.”  Put simply, parties to the conflict in Yemen are destroying the lives and well being of tens of millions of innocent civilians because they refuse to stop attacking civilians, civilian infrastructure and humanitarian aid.   One-third of Saudi coalition airstrikes since 2015 have hit non-military targets and, according to the UN, have been responsible for “the vast majority” of civilian deaths due to fighting.

Today in Yemen, 22.2 million civilians require humanitarian aid, including 11 million children  –with almost 2 million acutely malnourished and 400,000 children on the brink of starvation.  Since the 2015 Saudi intervention, over 5,000 children have been killed or injured by fighting.  On average, 130 children under 5 die every day of preventable causes.  

Incredibly and tragically, it now appears that this nightmare is about to “catastrophically” increase in severity.  

As we speak coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE are carrying out a military  offensive on the densely populated area of Hodeidah that could lead to up to 250,000 additional civilians killed, according to the UN.  Moreover, if the port in this area is blocked or damaged 10.5 million more Yemenis will be at risk of famine by year-end.  According to the UN Yemen Special Envoy, the attack on Hodeidah could “in a single stroke, take peace off the table.”

We commend several European states for beginning to restrict arms sales to Saudi Arabia given its conduct in Yemen, including Germany, Norway, Finland, Belgium (Walloon region), and the Netherlands.  

Despite the horrifying facts before us, the UK, US and  France continue to supply billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia and other coalition members.    For these countries, the profit of a few weapons-companies would appear to outweigh the value and sanctity of tens of millions of lives.  

We call on this Council to ensure an examination of the legality of third party weapons sales within the Yemen context.  

We further echo the recent call of the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide for stronger efforts to ensure accountability for violations occurring in Yemen.  

Finally we condemn the detention at Sayoun airport yesterday by Saudi coalition i forces of the President of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights in Yemen, Radhya Al-Mutawakel and its Executive Director Abdulrasheed Al-Faqih, and call on Saudi coalition forces to cease harassment and detention of Yemen human rights defenders.

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