In Yemen, civilians are the first victims of an endless war
Press release | London, 25th March 2020, 12:00 GMT
Press release | London, 25th March 2020, 12:00 GMT
Humanity & Inclusion condemns the extended use of explosive weapons - including the use of landmines, weapons prohibited by the Ottawa Treaty since 1999 - in the 5-year long Yemen war. Explosive violence has devastating and indiscriminate effects on civilians: Humanity & Inclusion has treated more than 3,000 victims of explosive weapons since 2015 in Yemen, including 850 victims of landmines and explosive remnants of war. Almost all of them have impairments resulting from their injuries and will require specific care for life. The organisation is also deeply concerned by the multiple obstacles to humanitarian intervention and access to population caused by unreasonable bureaucratic impediments. Humanity & Inclusion calls on all involved parties to lift any obstruction and facilitate timely and safe access to humanitarian assistance and protection to affected populations.
In 5 years of war, Yemen has been devastated by the use of explosive weapons: the organisation Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) reports that nearly 16,300 people have been killed or injured by explosive weapons between 2015 and 2018. About 80% of them were civilians. When explosive weapons were used in populated areas in Yemen, AOAV has found that, 95% of casualties were civilians. There are reports of widespread use of landmines in several regions of the country. Landmines and various explosive ordnances are now present in 19 out of 22 governorates throughout Yemen putting millions of civilians at risk (OCHA, 2019).
The massive and repeated use of explosive weapons - especially those with wide area effects - in populated areas has exacerbated Yemen’s humanitarian crisis and will have a long-term impact in Yemen. According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview, up to 600 civilian infrastructures were destroyed or damaged per month in 2018. 80% of the population needs humanitarian aid to survive. In Yemen, 50% of medical facilities no longer function while 19.7 million people are in need of healthcare and 17.8 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation. The economic blockade and disruption to the economy have inflated the cost of food and fuel. 3.3 million people are displaced.
The level of contamination by explosive remnants of war in Yemen is likely to be extremely high due to the intensity of the conflict in the last 5 years. Should the conflict end today, incidents linked with the use of weapons are expected to last for decades and continue to impair the civilian population and prevent the return of the displaced civilians to their homes.
Humanity & Inclusion is present in the governorates of Sana'a, Amanat al Asimah and Aden, in 6 health centres, and provides support to patients from all over the country. Humanity & Inclusion has treated 25,000 people, many of them victims of the conflict, since the beginning of its operations in 2015. More than 3,000 of them are victims of explosive weapons (bombings, explosive remnants of war, improvised explosive devices...).
The organisation has provided more than 27,000 crutches, walkers, wheelchairs etc. Nearly 23,000 people have received psychological support. Humanity & Inclusion fitted 300 people with prostheses and orthotics through its collaboration with the Sana'a Physiotherapy and Prosthesis Centre. More than 700 Yemeni health workers in Sana'a and other governorates were trained in early trauma response.
Humanity & Inclusion has contributed to set up emergency rehabilitation for war wounded in Yemen to meet the specific needs of the victims: landmines cause amputations of lower limbs. The victims of bombing have complex injuries (open wounds, fractures, burns, loss of muscle mass, damaged nervous systems, etc.). Without rehabilitation immediately following surgery, patients risk serious loss of mobility, resulting in impairments that often go hand in hand with social and professional marginalisation, a reduction in income and the impoverishment of the patient's family.
Thomas Hugonnier, Director of Middle East Operations at Humanity & Inclusion explains: "In the hospitals and rehabilitation centres where we operate, we are stricken by the number of people injured by bombing, landmines or unexploded ordnance. For many of them, physical rehabilitation is an absolute necessity. Many wounded people will need long-term medical, financial and social support, often for the rest of their lives... The devastating legacy of this conflict will leave a whole generation of people with injuries and disabilities and will require the support of aid agencies for many years."
Diplomatic process to end bombing in urban areas
Humanity & Inclusion and members of the International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW) are working with States to develop a strong political declaration to end the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas and to ensure support to the victims of these weapons.
Negotiations for a political declaration to end the human suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas started in Vienna on October 1-2, 2019. Two rounds of negotiations took place in Geneva on November 2019 and February 2020 and will be followed by another round of consultations later in 2020. This diplomatic process will be finalised with a political declaration that will be opened for endorsement.
Humanity & Inclusion calls for citizens’ support to mobilise parliamentarians in 7 countries (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) and ensure that governments will commit to the cause: Citizens are invited to write to their MPs on a dedicated internet platform to ask their government to support the declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
- Interviews available upon request with Humanity & Inclusion's experts.
Marlene Manning, Humanity & Inclusion UK
About Humanity & Inclusion
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International) is a charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.