IRC calls on UK to de-escalate violence in Yemen

Aden, Yemen, January 26, 2022 — The IRC is extremely alarmed by the rapid escalation of violence in Yemen and calls on the UK Government to support de-escalation and vocally condemn all attacks that kill civilians. International efforts must focus on bringing warring parties into peace negotiations and reinstating the Group of Eminent Experts (GEE) or another similar mechanism to hold those responsible for violations in Yemen to account.

Ansar Allah attacks against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over the last week have destroyed infrastructure and killed civilians. Retaliatory airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition, including in densely populated residential areas of Sana’a and Hodeidah, have wreaked havoc across northern Yemen. January will likely be a record-breaking month for civilian casualties and hundreds have been killed or injured, including a strike on a detention facility in Sa’dah that was the worst civilian casualty incident in three years. Additional attacks risk harming more civilians and will further restrict humanitarian organisations’ access to those most in need. Continued violence will only exacerbate the already dire situation in Yemen, where two thirds of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance.

Even before the recent escalation of violence, an economic crisis and the record-breaking devaluation of the Yemeni currency was already compounding the vulnerability of millions. Prices across the country continue to rise sharply, making it impossible for people to afford food and other basic items.

Stephanie Puccetti, IRC Yemen’s Deputy Director for Programmes, said,

“Mounting civilian casualties in Yemen demand renewed and urgent attention from global leaders, including the UK Government. As the lead on Yemen in the UN Security Council, the UK holds an influential position in efforts to stem the current wave of horrific violence and secure peace. The UK should be clear in its condemnation of civilian deaths and violence by all sides, and drive efforts in the Council to reinvigorate action to support the peace process. The IRC is calling on the warring parties to de-escalate the violence, engage with the UN Special Envoy, and make meaningful commitments to advance peace.

Airstrikes have become a daily occurrence in Sana’a and other cities. Public infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, have been damaged and destroyed. Obligations enshrined in international humanitarian law are being neglected and civilians continue to bear the brunt of this conflict. This renewed violence and its impact on civilians demands greater accountability, and yet the only mechanism designed to scrutinise the conduct of warring parties, the Group of Eminent Experts, was disbanded. As a member of the Human Rights Council, the UK should re-double diplomatic efforts to reinstate the GEE and ensure violence cannot continue with impunity.”