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7 years after the start of the conflict in Yemen, the humanitarian situation is worse than ever

Press Release | London, 21st March 2022, 12:00 GMT

The level of destruction caused by bombing and shelling in populated areas is huge, as is the level of contamination by explosive devices. Seven years of uninterrupted and systematic destruction of civilian infrastructure has caused death and injury, contributed to hunger and disease, and dramatically reduced the ability of the population to access essential services such as healthcare, clean water and electricity. Over two-thirds of the population are in need of humanitarian aid. The conflict in Yemen is a clear example of the long-term humanitarian consequences of using explosive weapons in populated areas. States must support the strong international agreement against urban bombing that has its final round of negotiations in April 2022.   

“The 7-year war has made Yemen one of the world's largest humanitarian emergencies. 66% of the population requires humanitarian assistance. The level of destruction is staggering and reminds us of the appalling humanitarian consequences of shelling and bombing on civilians' lives. The world can’t turn its back on this suffering. We are a few weeks away from an historic international agreement against bombing in populated areas, as the current diplomatic process reaches its conclusion. States must recognise the indiscriminate and extremely long-lasting human suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. They must support a strong international agreement to address the harm caused by this practice," says George Graham, Chief Executive of Humanity & Inclusion UK. 

Some figures about the conflict in Yemen: 

  • 20.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance - that is 66% of the population  

  • 13.5 million people are food insecure.  

  • 15 million people struggle to access clean water   

  • 4 million people have been forced from their homes.  

Around 377,000 people have died due to the conflict in Yemen, some being direct victims of the violence, and 60% dying of the indirect consequences of the conflict, such as lack of health services and clean water as health facilities and water supply systems have been largely destroyed by bombing and shelling; lack of food due to the destruction of roads making impossible to channelling goods, etc. It is estimated that if the war continues until 2030, 1.3 million people may have died, mostly from indirect consequences of the conflict 

Intensive use of explosive weapons in populated areas 

Over the past seven years, every form of explosive weaponry has been used in Yemen, including aerial bombs and missiles, artillery, mortars, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and many more. The vast majority of casualties as a result of explosive weapons remain to be civilians. 

At least 24 000 airstrikes occurred since March 2015.  More than 9,000 civilians were victims of airstrikes and shelling since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015. When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of the casualties are civilians. 

2021 witnessed a huge resurgence of violence around Ma’rib city, in the North as well as the West Coast of the country. 

More recently, in January 2022, a series of attacks claimed hundreds of casualties, of which 91 people were killed in a mass casualty airstrike on a detention facility in Sa’ada, the deadliest event recorded in more than two years. Around the same time, attacks on a telecom facility housing the country’s key gateway for internet and mobile connectivity plunged the entire nation into the dark. 

The threat of improvised explosive devices, landmines and unexploded ordnances 

The UN Humanitarian Needs Overview for Yemen reported 1,300 civilians “affected by landmine or explosive remnants related incidents” in 2020. Most of the accidents occur during people’s daily activities: going to a well to fetch water, farming crops or tending livestock, using public infrastructures such as roads, buildings, education and health facilities. Accidents occur in urban areas as well as in rural areas. 

According to the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project, landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) have caused approximately 9,000 civilian casualties since the beginning of the conflict. Civilians are always the first victims of this contamination.  

Unacceptably large numbers of mine and bombing casualties continue to arrive at Humanity & Inclusion’s supported facilities across 6 governorates in the country (Aden, Sana’a, Hajjah, Tai’izz, Hodeidah, Lahj). Since the beginning of our intervention in December 2015, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams have treated and supported 3,500 casualties of explosive weapons, including landmines, shelling, improvised explosive devices and explosive remnants of war. 


NOTES  

Humanity & Inclusion’s impact in Yemen since December 2015 

  • Offered rehabilitation sessions and instruction to 42,500 people  

  • Provided psychosocial support and counselling sessions to 29,800 people 

  • Equipped people with 43,200 mobility aids, including crutches and wheelchairs 

  • Fitted 660 people with artificial limbs and braces 

  • Distributed 2900 hygiene kits 

  • Trained 820 medical staff in rehabilitation 

  • Offered financial support to nearly 700 households  

Historic political declaration on urban warfare  

The last round of talks for governments to agree a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas will take place on 6-8th April 2022. The declaration will then be opened for signature by states. 

Humanity & Inclusion has been part of this process and has been campaigning since 2019 to help implement this historical International political declaration. More than 250,000 people in the UK have signed Humanity & Inclusion’s petition to Stop Bombing Civilians but the United Kingdom (among other states) have strongly opposed any meaningful limitations on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, even arguing that they do not want to ‘stigmatise’ this type of weaponry.    

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