Yemen is facing the world’s most massive humanitarian crisis. With more than 24 million people (roughly 80% of the population) is in need of humanitarian relief. These include more than 12 million children. The nation is becoming a living nightmare for the children of the region. The conflict had intensified in March 2015.
The Beginning of War
The dispute has its origins in the collapse of a democratic transition. The transition was to give prosperity to Yemen. This was after an Arab Spring uprising. The uprising compelled its oppressive president, Saleh, in 2011 to hand over control to his deputy, Hadi. As president, Mr Hadi failed to tackle many issues involving terrorist attacks. A separatist movement started in the South, and persistent allegiance of security forces to Saleh happened. Also corruption, unemployment and food shortages.
The Houthi movement supported the Muslim minority Zaidi Shia of Yemen. It also battled a sequence of uprisings against Saleh. This was during the past decade. It also took full advantage of the vulnerability of the new president. This happened by assuming charge of their northern heartland of the region of Saada and neighbouring regions. It was disaffected with the change, several common Yemenis-including Sunnis-joined the Houthis.
The rebels ended up taking over all the capital Sanaa in late 2014 and early 2015. Loyal to Saleh, who supported his old allies in an attempt to hold onto power, the Houthis and security officials then tried to take control over the entire nation. This prompted Mr Hadi in March 2015 to flee abroad. They were alarmed by the emergence of a militia that they suspected was further supported by local Shia power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other, Sunni Arab nations. They launched an airstrike to end the Houthis.
This was to ensure the end of Iranian involvement in Yemen and restore Mr Hadi ‘s government. The alliance got help from the US, UK and France for logistics and competence. Saudis, at the beginning of the conflict, estimated that it would last a few weeks. However, then that followed four years of military stalemate. Alliance ground forces arrived in the southern port city of Aden in August 2015.
Moreover, in the following months helped push the Houthis and their allied forces out of most of the South. Mr Hadi’s government had set up a new shelter in Aden. Nevertheless, it is struggling to provide essential support and maintenance. The president remains in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis were not removed from Sanaa and north-western Yemen in the meantime.
They managed to sustain a capture of Taiz ‘s third city. They also conducted frequent ballistic missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda militant groups in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the local affiliate of the opposing Islamic State group (IS) preyed on this situation by capturing region in the South.
They also carried out brutal attacks, particularly in Aden. In Aug 2019, Saudi-backed troops and a southern separatist group sponsored by the UAE, the Southern Transitional Council, were waging internal strife in the South. Loyalist forces to the STC blamed Mr Hadi of incompetence and ties to Islamic fundamentalists. They took control of Aden.
They refused to allow the cabinet to come back until that November. Saudi Arabia negotiated a power-sharing deal. The UN expected the deal could lead the road for a diplomatic resolution to end the conflict. However, a dramatic outbreak of violence between both the Houthis and coalition-led powers occurred in January 2020. This was with clashes on many fronts, missile and airstrikes.
The Human Cost
In brief, Yemen is witnessing the worst humanitarian catastrophe. Thousands of more civilians have been thereby killed from treatable diseases. These include malnutrition, mild disease and ill health. Save the Children-approximated that from April 2015 to October 2018, 85,000 children with severe undernutrition have died. Approximately 80 per cent of the population-24 million people-need compassionate care and support.
As per the UN, some 20 million people need help to secure food. Ten million of them are said to be “one step away from famine.” An estimated 2 million children are further considered malnourished. With 360,000 children under the age of five struggling to survive. With only half of the nation’s 3,500 healthcare facilities working fully.
Twenty million people lack appropriate access to healthcare. Yet 18 million lack clean drinking water or access to decent sanitation. Doctors have thus been attempting to cope with the most massive cholera epidemic ever recorded. It has resulted in more than 2.2 million suspected cases and 3,895 associated deaths since October 2016. More than 3.65 million faced homelessness due to the war.
The Importance of Yemen
All that which is happening in Yemen will make regional conflicts even worse. It also concerns the West as it becomes unbalanced. Because of the risk of attacks-like from al-Qaeda or IS, affiliates-that emanate from the country. The dispute is often considered an aspect of a battle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia over regional superpower.
Gulf Arab nations – President Hadi’s backers – have accused Iran of monetarily and operationally strengthening the Houthis. Though Iran has rejected that. Yemen is also economically important. Because it rests on a strait that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Much of the world’s oil consignments go through this strait.
Law on Humanitarian Aid
Article 14 of the Additional Protocol (AP) II to the Geneva Conventions restricts the use of starvation as a tactic. It cannot be then used as a military tactic by the parties involved. It also describes the specificity of items which are indispensable to human life. These include water systems, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The humanitarian crisis due to food shortage and fatal diseases was devastating. UNSC Resolution 2417 (2018) has prompted the world community. To check and hold people accountable for this humanitarian crisis is further needed. The law states that the persons held for infringing any human rights or international humanitarian law need to be then held accountable for their misdeeds.
Additional Protocol II
Humanitarian law requires everyone to deal with the ones responsible or accountable for Crimes. Yemen and the alliance headed by the Saud are participants to Geneva Conventions. The GCs and AP II common Article 3 will apply to non-international armed conflicts. The Houthis meet all the conditions laid down in Article 1 of AP II, and they are then subjected to the Treaty rules.
Additional Protocol I
AP I rules and customary humanitarian rules also extend to all parties of armed conflict. International humanitarian law and human rights law both restrict illegal detention. They also specify that deprivation of freedom of the people cannot take place. Furthermore, customary international law, the typical Article 3 of the GCs, Article 4 of the AP II and the law on human rights also need prisoners to be then treated with the utmost respect.
Abuse and violence against prisoners is not permissible. Parties to the dispute are responsible for overseeing them on charges of infringement of those laws. The team of experts has blamed the UAE, the Houthis, and the government of Yemen of breaching these laws. However, the Yemen and UAE governments did not investigate these cases.
With COVID-19 spreading nationwide, Yemen faces an immediate crisis. Hygiene and safe drinking water are in shortage. Less than half of the medical services work. Even those that stay operational lack necessary things such as masks and gloves. Oxygen, as well as other essential items, are not there for treating the coronavirus. Many health care workers do not receive wages or rewards. Throughout the dispute, murder and mutilation of children took place.
About 2 million children under the age of 5 face acute malnutrition and need medical attention. Hospitals and schools have been destroyed and closed. This hindered access to education and health care. This situation is making kids helpless and depriving them of their existence. Two million kids were already out of school before COVID-19. Already schools across the world have shut due to the apparent disease outbreak, leaving about 5 million kids out of school.
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