Human rights abuses in the Yemeni war

Yemen on the map Yemen on the map PHoto by KeithBinns on iStock

12 September 2021

Years of civil conflict has led to worsening human rights concerns in Yemen, with no imminent solution in sight

The United Nations has appointed a new special envoy for Yemen, the Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg, who is expected to make the worsening humanitarian crisis a focal point of his work. Some issues that he will have to tackle include unlawful detention, violence, killings of African migrants, the Red Sea environmental disaster, the catastrophic economic condition, the obstruction of humanitarian aid and, perhaps most importantly in the current global scenario, the COVID-19 vaccine administration. 

The Yemeni Civil War began in 2014 and is an ongoing armed conflict between multiple parties, primarily between the Yemeni government, led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi,​​ and the armed Houthi movement. Both claim to be the official government of Yemen, with other parties also claiming territory such as the Southern Transitional Council (STC), Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - Yemen Province (ISIL-YP) and many more. So far, the war has resulted in thousands of deaths, with a quarter of a million people dead by mid-2021, generating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. A majority of Yemeni civilians have been deprived of essentials such as clean food and water, electricity and primary healthcare. Other human rights concerns have also been documented.- Investigations by Human Rights Watch have exposed abuses such as ill-treatment and torture of people in detention facilities, crude oil spills into the Red Sea, attacks on civilians and suppression of information about COVID-19 and pandemic-related vaccination programmes.

The war has prompted a massive international response, particularly from neighbouring Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) whose US-funded armed forces have played a significant role in attempting to defeat the Houthi coalition. The UAE withdrew its support provided to the STC in 2020, however Saudi Arabia continues to maintain its military presence in the country supporting the Hadi-led government, while being accused of war crimes for its bombing campaign, which has targeted civilian areas and exacerbated food scarcity. In order to alleviate the dire conditions in Yemen, the UNHCR works to provide protection, shelter and non-food items keeping the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, and also provides legal and cash assistance. 




Author: Riddhi Likhe; Editor: Aleksandra Król

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