Starvation used as a method of warfare in Yemen

Neighbourhood in the city of Sana’a, capital of Yemen Neighbourhood in the city of Sana’a, capital of Yemen Photo by aboali777 on Pixabay

01 September 2021

Two human rights groups have released a report documenting how starvation has been deliberately used as a weapon of war by both parties to the conflict.

The civil war in Yemen started in 2014 when the Houthi rebel group seized the northern part of the country as well as the city of Sana’a, the capital. The official government, led by President Hadi, responded by forming a coalition with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, including the UAE. Since its beginning, the war, to which there is no end in sight according to the senior UN official for the MEA region, has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises ever witnessed. More than 20 million people , in fact, are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

Mwatana for Human Rights, a Yemeni human rights organization, together with Global Rights Compliance, has just released a long and detailed report showing how both parties to the conflict have been employing starvation as a method of warfare. Following a several-year long investigation , the two organisations proved that airstrikes by the Saudi/UAE-led coalitions on farms, water facilities, and fishing equipment were carried out despite the knowledge of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. Similarly, restrictive measures such as aerial and naval blockades as well as the imposition of restrictions on humanitarian relief impeded civilian access to food and water. The findings suggest that  the responsible parties were aware of the famine crisis that the country was experiencing, and that they must have intended to starve civilians.

Since the use of starvation as a method of warfare is prohibited by international humanitarian law and international criminal law, the report concludes by urging the ICC to investigate the alleged war crimes in the country in order to identify those who could be held accountable.




Author: Martina Apicella; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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