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Press briefing notes on Yemen

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 21 July 2015

Intense fighting has continued in Yemen, with at least 165 civilians, including 53 children and 23 women, killed between 3 and 15 July. Another 210 were injured during this period. The majority of the casualties are reported to have been caused by air strikes, but civilians are also regularly being injured and killed by mortar fire and in street fighting. The total death toll since 26 March is now at least 1,693 civilians, with another 3,829 injured.

Of these, at least 33 civilians were killed after a humanitarian pause was supposed to have taken effect on 11 July. In one particularly deadly attack, at least 29 civilians were killed after an airstrike hit the Al-Ummal (workers) Residential Complex for Al-Muhamsheen, a marginalized group in Sana’a. In two separate incidents on 6 July, air strikes in Amran and Lahj Governorates hit market places, leaving at least 76 civilians dead. Ground clashes, shelling, sniping and detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) also continued between the Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees and armed groups loyal to former President Saleh on one side and the Local Popular Committees on the other side.

In addition to the above, we have documented several other attacks against residential areas, mosques and local markets by the various parties to the conflict, including in Amran, Lahj, Sana’a, Al Dhali, Hudaydah, Taiz and Aden. We remind all parties to the conflict that any intentional direct attack against civilians or civilian objects is considered a serious violation of international humanitarian law. The principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution must be fully respected.

Mortar and sniper attacks continue to be reported in Taiz and Al Dhali, leading to a number of civilian casualties. In Al Dhali, densely populated areas have been targeted by Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees and the military 33rd Armoured Division loyal to former President Saleh. The siege on Al Dhali has severely restricted humanitarian access. In Hudaydah, ground clashes between members of the Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees and Opposing Local Popular Resistance Committees erupted in the Beit Al-Faqih district and coastal areas. Hostilities were further compounded by aerial bombardment by the Saudi-led coalition.

Reports suggest that Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees have actively been recruiting fighters, including children, who have been posted across the towns in Hudaydah Governorate. It has also been reported that serious crimes, including murder have increased in these areas.

The conflict continues to take a serious toll on civilians, both in terms of direct violence and in terms of the effect on many economic, social and cultural rights. The right to food, water, education and health are severely undermined. Water is unavailable or available sporadically in 20 out of 22 governorates. About 1.6 million girls and boys under the age of five are estimated to suffer from acute malnutrition and are in need of urgent treatment. An estimated 1.84 million children have been affected by the closure of 70 per cent of the schools across the country. And in Aden, the humanitarian situation is particularly dire, with limited availability of food and the absence of diesel for the main water supply and to provide generator power for hospitals and clinics.


For more information, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9711 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org).