A Dark Year Despite the Truce

Press briefing on the human rights situation in Yemen in 2022

Thursday, January 5, 2023
A Dark Year Despite the Truce
Annual Briefing En, 2022-1

(Sanaa,5 January 2023)

It has documented at least 1066 incidents of violations against civilians and civilian objects, some of which amount to war crimes. At least 388 civilians were killed, including 134 children and 19 women, and not less than 880 civilians were injured, including 383 children and 70 women, these incidents caused widespread damage to vital infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and service facilities. Mwatana for Human Rights said in its annual briefing on the human rights situation in Yemen for 2022.

Mwatana also stated that Ansar Allah armed group “Houthis” backed by Iran, the Saudi/UAE-led coalition, the internationally recognized Yemeni government, and UAE-backed forces, including the Southern Transitional Council (STC), have failed to spare civilians serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. In particular, during the entry into force of the truce in early April 2022.

Mwatana has field researchers in 17 Yemeni governorates, who collected data by conducting more than (2183) interviews with victims, victims’ families, eyewitnesses, and medical and humanitarian workers. Mwatana researchers obtained informed consent from survivors and eyewitnesses. This field research relied on collecting physical evidence, including medical reports, identification certificates, and photographs of weapon remnants. Mwatana received testimonies and information independently and securely from its primary and reliable sources, and worked to preserved the data confidential.

Parties to the conflict in Yemen have a disgraceful human rights record. They have committed widespread and systematic violations, including killing and injuring tens of thousands of civilians, destroying vital infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, practicing arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, denying access to humanitarian aid, recruiting and using children, occupying schools and hospitals, assaulting health and humanitarian workers, using starvation as a method of warfare, suppressing journalists and media professionals, and restricting public and personal rights and freedoms.

Yemen has no independent international accountability mechanism since the termination of the Group of Eminent Experts,, which is further embedding impunity for violators and making the possibility of achieving justice and redress for victims seem unattainable. Mwatana urges UN member states to quickly establish an independent international criminal investigation mechanism for Yemen with a mandate to document violations committed by parties to the conflict, submit public reports, as well as collect, and preserve and analyze evidence, and build files for future criminal litigation procedures.

“2022 was another tragic year for civilians in Yemen. The accountability gap in Yemen was a major reason why the parties to the conflict persisted in continuing their criminal behavior to violate human rights and stifle public and personal freedoms.” Radhya Almutawakel, the Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, said.

Eight years have passed since the outbreak of the armed conflict in Yemen in late 2014, when the forces of the Ansar Allah group “Houthis”, along with Saleh’s forces, took control of the capital, Sana’a, by armed force. Consequently, hostilities escalated during Saudi/UAE-led coalition’s 2015 military intervention.

The war left extremely dire living and health conditions, and left Yemenis to starve to death – in the world’s poorest countries with the lowest per capita income – where nursing mothers and children suffer from malnutrition. Millions of people affected by the humanitarian crisis in Yemen suffer from food insecurity, the spread of infectious diseases, and the exacerbation of psychological scars, according to estimates by international agencies.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report early last year, about 80% of Yemen’s population will be below the poverty line by June 2022. Over 23.4 million Yemenis, 73% of the population, are estimated to rely on humanitarian aid to survive. This includes 4.3 million IDPs, 102,000 refugees and 192,000 migrants, in light of the scarcity of water and the collapse of the health system where only half of the country’s 5,000 or so, health facilities are functioning, with a significant shortage of medical supplies and health personnel.

In early 2022 , hostilities escalated in large parts of Yemen, especially in Ma’rib and Shabwa governorates, accompanied by an increase in the number of air strikes, in several Yemeni cities, the Saudi/UAE-led coalition forces have repeatedly carried out unlawful attacks that killed and injured civilians and caused significant damage to infrastructure, including health care facilities and houses. In April 2022, Mwatana and Human Rights Watch released a joint statement documenting three airstrikes occurred in late January 2022, and killed about 80 civilians, including three children, and injured 156 civilians, including two children.

Among the three incidents was the airstrike on a detention center in Saada. According to the testimonies of medical staff to Mwatana, there were 162 wounded civilians who were treated by medical staff and 82 others were killed due to this incident. Mwatana obtained the names of 64 of the dead and 143 of the wounded. The rescuers stated that 16 prisoners were killed and 35 others were injured as a result of gunshots by the prison guards of the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” when tried to escape.

In addition, the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” carried out ground attacks on various areas in the country, especially the populated cities of Ma’rib and Taiz, killing and injuring civilians and causing physical damage to homes and residential neighborhoods. Mwatana has also documented violations committed by other parties to the conflict, such as the internationally recognized government forces, armed forces and groups affiliated with it, as well as the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council and Joint Forces in the West Coast.

In 2022, the frequency of violations against African and Yemeni migrants by the Saudi border guards increased in an unprecedented manner, as hospitals in Saada governorate receive wounded people almost on a daily basis, while the dead are buried in Al-Khals border area. The number of dead and wounded migrants reaches hundreds.

In January 2022, the Giant brigade Forces and government forces were able to repel an attack by the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” on the governorates of Ma’rib and Shabwa, and regained some lost territories, especially in Shabwa governorate. The fighting has led to displacement of thousands of people and  imposed restrictions on the movement of civilians. The most severe impact of the fighting has been on populations close to the contact lines.

On April 7, 2022, a Presidential Leadership Council was formed, led by Rashad Al-Alimi, to succeed former President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The Council is composed of eight members and has all the powers of the President and Vice President. That same month, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, announced a two-month truce. This truce was extended twice, most recently in October 2022. The truce included the suspension of all offensive military operations in Yemen and across its borders. As part of              the agreement, fuel ships were allowed to enter the ports of Al Hodeidah governorate, and Sanaa International Airport received commercial flights from predetermined destinations. In addition, the two parties agreed to meet under the auspices of the UN Special Envoy to open roads in Taiz and other governorates. Despite this, some terms of the truce were not implemented. Human rights violations continued despite the reduction of military operations.

In August 2022, Mwatana and 15 other organizations released a joint statement calling on Ansar Allah “Houthis” to open vital roads in Taiz immediately, so that civilians can regain freedom of movement, and to prevent further deterioration of the serious humanitarian crisis in Taiz. During the same month, Shabwa governorate witnessed armed clashes between Forces loyal to the Saudi/UAE-led coalition, causing the displacement of 313 households. All these displacement cases were inside the governorate, according to the International Organization for Migration. On July 24, 2022, “Mwatana” condemned a ground attack by the Houthis on a residential neighborhood in the city of Taiz in which civilians were killed. Mwatana had previously released a statement regarding violations by parties to the conflict in Yemen during the truce period.

Despite Yemen’s decline in the priorities of the international community, the Truce Agreement and the reduction of military escalation have provided a break for civilian men, women, and children. Movement across some Yemeni governorates and cities has also been facilitated, in addition to the relative stability of the exchange rate of the Yemeni Riyal against the US dollar. However, the country is experiencing a severe economic crisis with food insecurity, which is the biggest challenge of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, in light of the high prices of basic foodstuffs due to the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian war on food supplies. Yemen depends entirely on food imports. The war in Ukraine has contributed to diverting the attention of the international community from the ongoing conflict in Yemen, while the humanitarian crisis in Yemen deserves broader international and regional support.

During the truce period, mines, explosive objects and other remnants of war have caused countless deaths and injuries, including women and children, in light of the uncalculated return of the civilian population to the areas that witnessed the ceasefire. While the parties to the conflict made no significant progress in the prisoner exchange file, the Saudi/UAE-led coalition announced in October 2022 that a delegation from its side and another from the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” exchanged visits to prisoners as part of the initiative of “good intentions and efforts to build confidence in order to extend the truce in Yemen.”

Mwatana renews its call to the parties to the conflict to remove obstacles and intensify efforts to reach an agreement to extend the truce that ended in early October 2022, to work for the final cessation of military and hostile operations, to pay the salaries of civil servants and to open roads to alleviate the suffering experienced by millions of civilians in Taiz, Ma’rib, Al Hodeidah, Dhala and other governorates.

On 22 October 2022, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, condemned the drone attack claimed by Ansar Allah on 21 October against the vessel at Al-Dubbah oil terminal in Hadramout governorate. He said, “This is a deeply worrying military escalation.” The United Nations has warned that the salvage operation for the tanker “Safar”, which carries about 1.14 million barrels of light crude oil, and is moored off the port of Hodeidah, west Yemen, will become more dangerous with the slow pace of donations from the international community.

, “The continued deteriorating human rights situation in Yemen is one of the consequences of the policy of impunity promoted by the international community. The tragedy of civilians in Yemen must end, and states must play a positive role in promoting international criminal accountability rather than standing by.” Osama Al-Faqeh, Director of Advocacy at Mwatana for Human Rights, said.

2022 also witnessed a serious deterioration of women’s rights, especially in public life in areas controlled by Ansar Allah “Houthis”. On March 8, 2022, Mwatana released a statement highlighting such violations, as the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” endangered women by preventing them from obtaining reproductive health services in some areas under their control. It also restricted, to a large extent, the travel of women without a mahram, and issued more than one circular imposing a stereotyped conception of how women should dress. More than once, the group prevented gender mixing in research activities and graduation ceremonies at a number of universities. Mwatana observed an incident in which women were temporarily expelled from working in a restaurant. In addition, a number of Ansar Allah speeches, through different platforms, sparked hatred against women in areas under the group control.

This press briefing reviews most of the human rights violations documented by Mwatana in 2022. However, the figures in this annual briefing are preliminary and aim to provide an overview of the most prominent patterns of violations that affected civilians in 2022. Mwatana continues to document a number of other incidents that took place in 2022, in order to publish a detailed annual report on the human rights situation later in 2023.


The airstrikes of the Saudi/UAE-led coalition continued to kill and injure civilians, and destroyed civilian objects, including residential neighborhoods, a service facility, hospitals, schools, a university, a prison, farms, a water scheme, public roads, and civilian vehicles. In 2022, Mwatana documented 28 airstrikes, killing at least 110 civilians, including 14 children and 3 women, and injuring at least 175 civilians, including 19 children and 6 women.

Drone Attacks

Recently, there has been an increase in the use of booby-trapped drones by parties to the conflict, causing a number of civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects.

During 2022, Mwatana documented 13 drone attacks that killed at least 9 civilians, including 5 children, and injured at least 33 civilians, including 20 children and 5 women. Ansar Allah group “Houthis” is responsible for 10 drone attacks in Al Hodeidah, Taiz, Ma’rib governorates as well as in Amanat Al-Asimah. While Giant brigade’ forces are responsible for two drone attacks in Al Dhalea governorate, joint forces on the western coast have also carried out one drone attack in Al Hodeidah governorate.

Ground Attacks

Ground shelling on populated areas has resulted in significant damage to civilian objects and severe civilian casualties. In 2022, Mwatana documented 53 ground attacks that killed 43 civilians, including 15 children and 8 women, and injured at least 150 civilians, including 79 children and 16 women. The Ansar Allah group “Houthis” is responsible for 23 of these incidents, while the Saudi border guards are responsible for 10. The Joint Forces are responsible for two incidents, while government forces committed 7 incidents, the Southern Transitional Council forces committed 8 incidents, and the Shabwa Defense Forces committed one incident. However, Mwatana was unable to identify the violating party in two cases.

Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance

With the entry into force of the truce, landmines and unexploded ordnance explosions have increased compared to last year. The return of civilians to their homes near the frontlines was allowed in some areas without demining campaigns. Most of the dead and wounded civilians were children.

In 2022, Mwatana documented nearly 122 incidents of landmine explosions that killed approximately 82 civilians, including 31 children and one two women, and injured 148 civilians, including 86 children and 8 women. Ansar Allah group “Houthis” bears responsibility for all landmine incidents documented by Mwatana, except for 7 incidents in which Mwatana was unable to identify the violating party.

Mwatana also documented nearly 94 incidents of unexploded ordnance that killed about 50 civilians, including 36 children and 4 women, and injured 191 civilians, including 109 children and 14 women.

Child Recruitment and Use

Mwatana documented the recruitment and use of at least 83 children, including at least 3 girls, by parties to the conflict during 2022. Ansar Allah group “Houthis” recruited 63 children, including 3 girls. The Shabwa Defense Forces recruited 8 children. 3 children were recruited by the government forces. The Southern Transitional Council has also recruited 4 children. The joint forces in the West Coast are responsible for recruiting 4 children. and the Saudi/UEA-led coalition forces in the Yemeni border recruited one child.

In 2022, it was noted that the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” focused on child recruitment and mobilization in schools, mosques and summer centers located in its areas of control.

Denial Access of Humanitarian Aid

In 2022, Mwatana documented at least 85 incidents in which parties to the conflict obstructed the access of humanitarian aid and essential materials to civilians. The Ansar Allah group “Houthis” is responsible for 55 of these incidents, while the government forces committed 13 incidents, The Joint Forces committed 10 incidents ,the Southern Transitional Council is responsible for 6 incidents, including arbitrary detention and torture against an aid worker. , and the Saudi/UAE-led coalition forces committed one incident.

Migrants’ Abuses

In 2022, Mwatana documented at least 25 incidents against African and Yemeni migrants, killing at least 7 migrants and injuring at least 23 others, including 13 children and a woman. Saudi border guards committed 10 of these incidents, while the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” is responsible for 9 incidents, the government forces responsible for two incidents, and smuggling and human trafficking gangs committed 4 incidents.

Attacks on Schools

As a result of the increasing violations committed by the parties to the conflict in 2022, schools and educational facilities have suffered severe damage. Mwatana documented at least 106 incidents of attacks on schools or use for military purposes. The Ansar Allah group “Houthis” is responsible for 95 of these incidents, including two drone attacks, one ground shelling and one school bombing. The government forces are responsible for 7 incidents. The Saudi/UAE-led coalition is responsible for two airstrikes on schools. The Joint Forces in the West Coast committed one incident, and the Giants forces in Shabwa committed one incident. In 2022, there was an increase in the number of violations against schools due to the intensification of mobilization campaigns and the child recruitment in schools.

Attacks on Health Care

Throughout 2022, “Mwatana” documented 35 incidents that caused damage to the health care system, including 8 incidents of airstrikes in Amanat Al-Asimah, Shabwa, Hodeidah and Al-Jawf governorates, a ground shelling that damaged a medical facility; two shooting incidents that resulted in the injury of two health worker and an attempt to kill a doctor, and 6 incidents of arbitrary detention, disappearance and torture for 8 health workers, and physical abuse of a doctor. The government forces are responsible for 14 of these incidents, while the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” is responsible for 9 incidents. The Saudi/UAE-led coalition forces committed 8 incidents, The Southern Transitional Council is responsible for 3 incidents, while one incident was committed by the Joint Forces in the West Coast.


In 2022, Mwatana documented the torture of 58 civilian people, including 4 children and woman. The forces of the Southern Transitional Council are responsible for the torture of 14 civilian, 3 of whom died as a result of torture in detention centers. The government and pro-government forces are responsible for the torture of 13 civilian, 3 of whom died as a result of torture in detention centers. The Ansar Allah group “Houthis” is responsible for the torture of 14 civilian. The Emirati forces in Hadramout tortured a civilian, and the Hadrami Elite forces tortured 9 civilian. Besides, seven migrants were also tortured and killed inside Saudi territory.

Sexual Violence

In 2022, Mwatana documented incidents of sexual violence for 18 victims. Among the victims, 9 girls , 3 boys and 1 adult woman were raped. There were attempts to rape 3 girls and two boys one of whom was shot for resisting. The government forces are responsible for 6 incidents of sexual violence. The Sudanese forces committed 7 incidents of sexual violence, while the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” bear responsibility for 3 incidents of sexual violence. The Southern Transitional Council forces is responsible for two sexual violence incidents.

Mwatana released a statement on sexual violence incidents committed by Sudanese forces in the border governorate of Hajjah.

Enforced Disappearance

In 2022, Mwatana documented the enforced disappearance of 160 civilians, including 13 children and 4 women. The Ansar Allah group “Houthis” have committed enforced disappearances against 53 civilians. The Southern Transitional Council forces are responsible for the disappearance of 38 civilians, while the government and pro-government forces are responsible for the disappearance of 32 civilians. The Joint Forces in the West Coast are responsible for the disappearance of 13 civilians, while the Shabwa Defense Forces are responsible for the disappearance of 9 civilians. The Saudi/UAE-led coalition forces are responsible for the disappearance of 8 civilians, the Hadrami Elite forces are responsible for the disappearance of 3 civilians, and the smuggling and human trafficking gangs are responsible for the disappearance of 4 migrants.

Arbitrary Detention

In 2022, Mwatana documented the arbitrary detention of 265 civilians, including 43 children and 8 women. The Ansar Allah group “Houthis” committed arbitrary detention against 146 civilians. The government forces and affiliated groups arbitrarily detained 35 civilians, while the Southern Transitional Council detained 44 civilians. The Joint Forces in the West Coast committed arbitrary detention against 15 civilians, while armed elements belonging to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula forcibly detained 3 civilians. Eritrean forces also detained 20 Yemeni fishermen, while smuggling and human trafficking gangs detained two migrants.

During 2022, Mwatana for Human Rights provided legal support to victims of arbitrary detention in 17 Yemeni governorates through 22 field lawyers by providing legal assistance and advice in 832 arbitrary detention cases. The team’s continuous follow-up aims to release victims of arbitrary detention, and improve conditions of detention “the detention environment, treatment, etc.” as well as pushing towards applying detention procedures in accordance with national and international laws. 345 arbitrary detainees were released in 2022, Mwatana provided them with legal support, while many of the victims are still in detention.

Other Abuses on Civilians

Civilians were killed and injured by parties to the conflict in other ways. In 2022, Mwatana documented 21 incidents of civilians being run over by military vehicles, killing 9 civilians, including two children, and injuring 23 others, including 11 children and 3 women. The Southern Transitional Council committed 6 incidents. Government forces are responsible for 6 incidents, while the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” forces committed 5 incidents, the Saudi/UAE-led coalition forces located in the border areas 4 incidents. The human trafficking gangs committed one incident.

In 2022, Mwatana also documented the killing of 54 civilians by live ammunition, including 18 children and two women, and the injury of 142 civilians, including 54 children and 15 women

Violations Against the Press

During 2022, parties to the conflict continued to practice arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, inhuman treatment, and torture against journalists. Mwatana documented 4 incidents that affected 10 journalists and media workers. The Giant brigades’ forces in Shabwa are responsible for the arrest of 7 journalists. The government forces are responsible for the arrest of two journalists. the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” forces are responsible for the arrest of one journalist.

The Ansar Allah group “Houthis” is still arbitrarily detaining four journalists. The four journalists are facing the death penalty after being unfairly tried in the Specialized Criminal Court in Sanaa in April 2020. The journalist Waheed Al-Sufi has been forcibly disappeared since 2015.

Restrictions on Freedom of Movement

In 2022, Mwatana documented 7 incidents of restrictions on the freedom of movement of civilians in different areas of Yemen. The Ansar Allah group “Houthis” bears responsibility for these incidents. In this context, the Ansar Allah group “Houthis” has banned the travel of women through Sanaa airport without guardians “mahram”, especially those working for NGOs. The group has also required the consent of the guardian for land movements of women between governorates.