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Thursday, 24 September 2020


New report on Yemen and explosive weapons – A death sentence for civilians

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HUMANITY & Inclusion has released its new report Death Sentence to Civilians: The Long-Term Impact of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas in Yementhat demonstrates how bombing in populated areas has wiped out decades development of Yemen. 

During 5 years of war, the men, women and children of Yemen have experienced every manner of explosive weapons – aerial bombs and missiles, artillery, mortars, and IEDs and much more – destroying bridges, roads, hospitals and generating long-lasting civilian harm. Humanity & Inclusion, as a co-founding member of International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), is fully engaged in the diplomatic process which started in October 2019 to end bombing in populated areas and to urge States to support a strong political declaration to end human suffering caused by explosive weapons.

Humanity & Inclusion’s report ‘Death Sentence to Civilians: The Long-Term Impact of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas in Yemen’ demonstrates how the use of explosive weapons in Yemen will impact on Yemenis lives for decades: critical infrastructure and services necessary for food, transport, health, and water such as ports, roads, health facilities, and water systems have been damaged or destroyed.

The report shows the extent and impacts through 6 cases studies. Just one of those is the damages to Hodeidah port by bombing. A single incident early in the conflict had disrupted the supply of basic goods and caused a price hike in essential goods, such as food. The report also shows that the demolition of roads and bridges greatly increases the time it takes to supply cities, as well as hampering the population’s access to basic services. As this shows, the consequences of the bombing of infrastructure in 2015, such as the Hodeidah port, still have severe consequences for civilians today and will do for decades.

The extensive bombing of populated areas in Yemen has sent the country back 25 years (Source: Assessing the Impact of War on development on YEMEN, UNDP, 2019). That’s a whole generation. Yemen will not be able to bear the appalling cost of reconstruction or even the vital decontamination of explosive remnants of war that will be necessary prior to any reconstruction.

According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview up to 600 civilian infrastructures were destroyed or damaged per month in 2018. In Yemen, 50% of medical facilities no longer function while 19.7 million people in need of healthcare and 17.8 people lack access to safe water and sanitation. The economic blockade and disruption to the economy have inflated the cost of food and fuel. The damage to critical infrastructure has exacerbated humanitarian needs in the country, where 24.1 million people (three-quarters of the population) are in need of humanitarian aid.

Alison Bottomley, Humanity & Inclusion Advocacy Advisor said:

“The bombing of urban areas is a slow and silent health crime. Vital medical health structures are being wiped out through the use of explosive weapons: 50% of health facilities can no longer function fully, reducing the country’s medical and health-care capacity by half. Yemen’s health infrastructure is being wiped out by the bombing of medical facilities and through the destruction of sewage systems by repetitive bombing, which has encouraged the return of water-related diseases.

“Bombing and shelling in Yemen kill and injures civilians on the spots. It also has a lingering and long-term impact for generations of people that will survive the war – if the war in Yemen was to end today, people will have to bear the brunt of destroyed roads, bridges, hospitals and harbours. This damage and destruction have caused a sharp decrease in health access, making access to basic goods, including medicine and basic services, much more difficult. Even before the conflict, Yemen had insufficient health, water, and transport infrastructure. The massive and repetitive use of explosive weapons in populated areas for 5 years has made Yemen even more vulnerable.”

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.

Alison adds:

“The destruction of critical infrastructure by bombing leaves Yemen struggling to cope with a pandemic such as COVID-19.  Social and medical services are disorganised and further weakened by 5 years of extensive and repetitive bombardments. Entire populations – especially displaced people – are extremely vulnerable and have the least access to the health, water, and sanitation services they need to protect themselves from COVID-19.”

Diplomatic process to end bombing in urban areas

Humanity & Inclusion as a co-founding member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) is 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.

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