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Press briefing note on Yemen

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location:   Geneva
Date:  7 July 2015
Subject:  Yemen

We are deeply concerned about the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in Yemen, where civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict. Between 17 June and 3 July, at least 92 civilians, including 18 women and 18 children, were killed and 179 others, including 43 women and 30 children, were injured throughout the country. These figures bring the total number of civilians reportedly killed and injured since 27 March 2015 to 1,528 and 3,605 respectively. Over 1 million civilians have been internally displaced or have sought refuge in neighboring countries since the conflict began.

Since June 17, coalition forces have continued aerial bombardment and other attacks. Ground clashes, shelling, sniper fire, and detonation of improvised explosive devices have also been reported in different governorates in Yemen. 

Over the past few weeks, our team on the ground has been able to document human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. These include violations of the right to life, abduction, ill-treatment, restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, attacks against humanitarian workers, medical staff and facilities, as well as journalists and media organisations.

Dozens of civilians have been abducted and subjected to arbitrary detention in Sana’a.

We have also received worrying reports that local Popular Resistance committees affiliated with exiled President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi have summarily executed at least six people perceived to be loyal to the Houthi-Saleh coalition and committed acts of ill-treatment.

We are also deeply worried about increasing attacks against places of worship. The targeting of five Zaydi mosques using car bombs over the past few weeks points to an alarming trend aimed at creating sectarian divisions. 

Since 17 June, there has been further destruction of civilian infrastructure, with at least 36 buildings, including hospitals, schools, court houses, power generation facilities, and communications institutions partially or totally damaged in the governorates of Sana’a, Aden, Taiz, Al-Jawf, Al-Mahwit, and Hajjah.

We have also closely monitored attacks against United Nations offices by the parties to the conflict. On 28 June, one civilian was injured in an airstrike that hit and partially destroyed the UNDP office in Khormaksar, Aden. IOM’s Migrant Response Centre in Basateen, also in Aden, was struck by a mortar and an airstrike damaged IOM’s office in Harad.

Humanitarian access remains severely constrained by recent violence. Since the beginning of the conflict, land, air and maritime restrictions have severely reduced imports. Food and other essential imports have significantly dropped. We have also received reports of very serious constraints to humanitarian access in Aden, Al-Dhali, Taiz and Lahj, where Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees and armed forces units loyal to former President Ali Abdalla Saleh have set up checkpoints controlling entry and exit of goods.

In addition to insecurity on the roads and the blocking of access to food and clean water, restrictions of movement have been imposed on civilians. Shortages of medicine, essential medical supplies and fuel have reached critical levels, creating an extremely challenging situation and further deteriorating Yemen’s healthcare system.

Once again, we urge all sides to the conflict to ensure that international human rights law and international humanitarian law are respected, and to ensure that all feasible measures are taken to ensure civilians are protected. International humanitarian law imposes on parties to a conflict the duty to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need.

ENDS

In response to a question on attacks against United Nations offices: We call on all parties to respect the inviolability of UN premises in accordance with applicable international law protecting UN facilities, including the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and associated personnel.

For further information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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