The impact of armed violence on civilian dwellings in Yemen

 A man carries a girl injured during a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen A man carries a girl injured during a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen © Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

This article is a brief presentation of the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project’s report on the impact of armed violence on civilian dwellings in Yemen

The Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP) is a monitoring mechanism aimed at collecting, analysing and diffusing data on the impact of violence on civilians in Yemen, where a dramatic civil war is still ongoing since 2015. 

After 5 years of war, the civilian population continues to suffer the direct effect of hostilities in Yemen: airstrikes and shelling frequently hit civilian residential areas, causing injuries and casualties among civilians and increasing the number of displaced people. As CIMP reported, during the first half of this year 547 incidents of armed violence directly impacted almost 2.500 civilian houses in Yemen. This figure has been gradually increasing since November 2019, despite the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for a country-wide ceasefire to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 86% of civilian houses impacted by armed violence in 2020 have been concentrated in three areas in the north of the country: Hudaydah, where an alleged ceasefire is ongoing, Sa’dah and Ma’rib. As the report underlines, 1 in 4 civilian casualties in Yemen occurred at home, during the first half of 2020. There are a series of implications for civilians whose houses have been directly impacted by armed violence: death and serious injury clearly represent a major risk, but they may also be forced to flee as their houses are severely damaged. As more and more people are forced to leave their houses, an additional strain is inevitably put on Internally Displaced People (IDP) hosting sites as well. Moreover, the direct exposure of civilians to armed violence in a domestic context is likely to provoke a cross-generational psychosocial trauma, as CIMP’s report suggests. 

When it comes to civilian casualties in houses, as shown by the report, some categories of civilians are more impacted than others. Women and children, for instance, represent more than half of the civilian casualties resulting from the impact of armed violence on civilian houses since 2018. This proportion has been steadily increasing, rising from 53% of civilian casualties in 2018 to 57% during the first half of 2020. As CIMP’s report underlines, Yemenite women and children are more vulnerable than other categories in this particular context as, for cultural reasons, they tend to spend more time in domestic spaces than men. Women and children also represent more than half of the total civilian casualty toll on IDPs sites. Moreover, the number of incidents of armed violence impacting IDP sites doubled from 2018 to 2019. 

Finally, the report investigates which type of armed violence has had the heaviest impact on civilian houses, showing that shelling and airstrikes caused 96% of this kind of incidents since 2018. Even though shelling caused more than twice as many incidents as airstrikes, the latter proved to be deadlier, resulting in 25% more fatalities. As explained by the report, a number of factors might increase the risk of exposure to incidents of armed violence. Of course, proximity to active frontlines, military sites and security infrastructure slightly enlarges the risk of a direct impact, even though the conflict’s dynamic nature makes it difficult to predict escalations and changes of targets. 


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Author: Margherita Curti; Editor: Matteo Consiglio


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