MS Risk Blog

Yemen Enters its Forth Year of War

Posted on in Uncategorized title_rule

Yemen enters its fourth year of war

Last week, Yemen entered its fourth year of continuous civil war. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres reported that situation in Yemen has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Approximately three quarters (equivalent to over 22 million) of Yemen’s population are in dire need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Of this 22 million, 11.3 million are children. Cholera and diphtheria outbreaks are spreading dramatically. Unicef’s Geert Cappelaere has stated that one child every 10 minutes is dying from preventable diseases in Yemen.

At the same time, the army is battling the Houthi rebels with the support of the US-backed Saudi-led coalition. Since March 2015, neighbouring Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of Gulf states against Houthi rebels in Northern Yemen, after the rebels drove out the US-backed and pro-Saudi government. The Houthi rebels however have launched several missile attacks against Riyadh as a retaliation against the Saudi airstrikes. Saudi Arabia intercepted seven missiles during March and vowed to respond to the Houthi aggression. The attacks are becoming more and more frequent with the West accusing Iran of supplying the Houthis with weapons, whereas Iran denies these allegations. The situation is worsening since airstrikes and attacks against the Houthis have resulted in civilian deaths; last week in one day, an airstrike killed 14 civilians including 7 children. Yemen Data Project, an independent monitoring group, has been collecting data on the location and targets of the aerial war. The organization says the Saudi-led coalition carried out a total of 16,749 air raids were recorded from March 26, 2015 to March 25, 2018, or an average of 15 bombing runs per day. Nearly a third of those airstrikes, or 31%, targeted non-military sites, the data said.

While the UN has struggled to issue a reliable death toll in the conflict, in September it stated that over 60 percent of recorded civilian deaths were at the hands of coalition forces. Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Saudi-led coalition in September of committing war crimes in Yemen, The coalition has been criticised about its increased aggression in the area. On March 26th , marking the beginning of the civil war, tens of thousands of Yemenis protested the western backed Saudi-led coalition and international aggression that has already claimed lives of thousands of civilians, calling for the end of war.

Both Saudi Arabia and the rebels have been also criticised for having used food as a weapon of war. More importantly the blockade Riyadh imposed in November exacerbated the situation, with Yemenis unable to receive aid. It has now been three months since Saudi Arabia urged by the international community on Yemenis humanitarian crisis, lifted its blockade on certain ports, in January in order to allow for help to reach to the Yemeni population. Delays have had a chilling effect on commercial suppliers as ships pay hefty demurrage fees as they wait for unloading, experts say. Bureaucratic impediments still slow the aid flow, both at Hodeidah and Aden ports. “We are now early April, we still have the backlog of thousands of pallets that have been waiting to be transported,” Dr. Nevio Zagaria, the World Health Organization’s envoy in Yemen said, referring to medical and other supplies.

The United Nations secured around $2 billion for humanitarian aid to Yemen this year at a pledging conference in Geneva on Tuesday, amid warnings that lack of adequate access to 22 million people in need remains a dangerous reality. All states reported having access issues while it was also stressed that funding won’t assistance does not reach people in need.

The country is now entering its fourth year of civil war. Most analysts are certain that Iran is supplying the rebels with weapons. Many suggest that a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran could continue taking place in Yemen with both states fighting over regional influence. A further escalation in the proxy war would push prices higher, that’s more or less certain. But can Iran and Saudi Arabia afford this further escalation? UN’s Guetteres said this month, that peace in Yemen is possible, but the solution has always been political. He also underlines the importance of access to ports and airports and pledged towards a 3 billion appeal. Meanwhile the slower aid is reaching to the region, the crisis deteriorates.