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Genocide Emergency: Yemen

Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Emergency Alert for Yemen. Yemen’s civil war continues to ravage the country with no end in sight. The Southern Transitional Council has now become an additional party in the conflict. It has further splintered Yemen’s political structures and complicated the path to peace. The Armed Conflict Location & Data Project (ACLED) reports that more than 100,000 Yemenis have died since the beginning of the conflict in 2015. More than 12,000 of those were killed by directly targeted attacks, including 7,500 children. Many Yemeni cities are bombed out ruins.

While the conflict is commonly referred to as a civil war, the involvement of a Saudi Arabian-led coalition to bolster the Yemeni government makes this an international conflict. Iran supports the Houthi rebels, which now control Sanaa and much of central Yemen after driving out the Saudi-backed Yemeni government in 2014. A 2019 UN Panel found that both the Iranian-backed Houthis and the Saudi-backed government have committed war crimes, including arbitrary killings, rape, torture, and the recruitment of child soldiers. France, the United Kingdom, and the United States provide intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition. They are aiding and abetting war crimes.

A report from Mwatana, a leading Yemeni humanitarian organization, revealed 1,605 cases of arbitrary detention, 770 cases of enforced disappearance, and 344 cases of torture carried out by Houthis, the Yemeni government, and UAE forces and affiliated armed groups from May 2016 – April 2020. Both government and Houthi forces have violently attacked, raped, and tortured migrant workers and asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa. Both government and Houthi leaders falsely blame African migrants for the severe cholera epidemic that has ravaged Yemen and for the spread of COVID-19.

Twenty million Yemenis have insufficient food, with ten million on the brink of starvation. Young children are dying by the thousands, and over two million are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition. Yemen is experiencing the world’s largest cholera epidemic. Children under the age of five make up 23% of total cases. As of July 2020, Yemen had over 1,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 440 deaths. The actual number of cases is probably much higher. The Houthis have refused to disclose the number of confirmed cases and deaths in the territories they control. Yemen has one of the lowest testing capacities in the world at 31 tests per million citizens. Yemeni citizens have one of the lowest immunity levels in the world due to famine, making them extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. Yemen’s healthcare system is nearly destroyed. Hospitals turn patients away for lack of basic supplies.

The Yemeni population is dying. Houthi rebels, the Yemeni government, the Saudi-led coalition, and UAE-backed forces are all committing war crimes. They have deliberately targeted civilians and caused what the UN calls “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” The U.S. corporation Raytheon sells the Saudis laser guided bombs used by Saudi bombers to kill Yemeni civilians, despite an arms embargo imposed by Congress that was overridden by a waiver from the White House.

Eighty percent of Yemenis rely on humanitarian assistance. Yet the UN and humanitarian organizations have consistently had trouble delivering aid due to a Saudi blockade and Houthi interference. Only $1.3 billion has been pledged toward the UN’s $2.4 billion fundraising goal. Without more funding, three-quarters of UN aid programs may be scaled back or shut down.

The U.S. should stop its support for Saudi war crimes. It should send aid to the starving people of Yemen.

Genocide Watch considers Yemen to be at Stage 9: Extermination.

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