Woes of Arabia Felix

The Human Rights Situation in Yemen in 2017

Publish Date
February 1, 2018
Pages Count
Woes of Arabia Felix
Yemen: All Parties to the Conflict Have Brought Tragedy to Civilians in the "Arabia Felix"
Press Release
Yemen: All Parties to the Conflict Have Brought Tragedy to Civilians in the "Arabia Felix"
May 15, 2018

Executive Summary

In 2017, all parties to the conflict in Yemen committed violations against International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. Woes of “Arabia Felix” is the first annual report released by Mwatana for Human Rights, documenting violations committed by parties to the conflict, as well as referencing significant developments related to human rights issues in Yemen within international mechanisms. Mwatana for Human Rights produced Woes of “Arabia Felix” report based on investigative field research in 18 Yemeni governorates. In 2017, Mwatana conducted more than 1637 interviews in Arabic with the victims, victims’ families, eyewitnesses as well as medical and humanitarian workers. The field research team conducted the interviews and researches while the research unit collected, reviewed, and verified the information and visited several Yemeni governorates in separate field missions. An International Law expert reviewed the report and conducted legal analysis on the report. The English version of the report was then translated from Arabic. The research was based on taking testimonies and information from main sources of information relating to human rights violations. Mwatana never offered financial or in-kind contributions to those who testified in the report. The identities of some of the witnesses are withheld for their protection. This report is divided into two main chapters:

  • Chapter One: The Situation in Yemen under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and international Mechanisms. This chapter is divided into four sections: Section One: The Situation of the Yemeni conflict in the Context of International Humanitarian Law

Although Ansar Allah (the Houthis) group is widely considered de facto authority in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the general frame through which the International Humanitarian Law (laws of war) views the conflict has not changed. Hence, the ongoing conflict in Yemen is not considered an international armed conflict, based on provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.However, the fact that the conflict in Yemen is not of an international armed conflict doesn’t exempt the parties to the conflict from complying with the rules of the International Humanitarian Law, especially the common Article No. 3 of the Geneva Conventions and the customary rules of International Humanitarian Law. These Articles and Rules provide for a humane and non-discriminatory treatment for every person in captivity and care for injured persons during hostilities; including enemy’s combatants and injured, without discrimination. Moreover, the strict compliance with the rules of the humanitarian international law, in armed conflicts (international or otherwise), doesn’t require or presume reciprocity. In other words, the parties to the conflict are expected to comply with these rules, regardless of whether the other party complied with them or not.

  • Section Two: Yemen in the UN Security Council

In 2017, the UN Security Council discussed the situation in Yemen in nine sessions. During UN Security Council session held on May 30, 2017, Radiya Al-Mutawakil, the head of Mwatana for Human Rights presented a briefing (first of its kind by a Yemeni organization) briefing in a plenary session of the Security Council, together with the UN Special envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh and the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, Stephen O'Brien. In her briefing, Al-Mutawakil called upon the UN Security Council and the international community to undertake their responsibility towards the tragic situation in Yemen.Al-Mutawakil's briefing emphasized a number of important issues and demands related to human rights situation, most notably the establishment of an Independent International Inquiry Mechanism to investigate the violations committed by all parties to the conflict.

  • Section Three: Yemen in Human Rights Council and the Establishment of International Inquiry Mechanism

Having faced a mounting pressure during the two rounds of 2015 and 2016, which was exerted by Saudi Arabia and its allies – primarily the U.S., UK and France – to hamper the establishment of an International Inquiry Mechanism; the United Nations Human Rights Council finally decided, during its 36th session on September 29, 2017, to establish an international and regional panel of outstanding experts, and delegated the task to the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Panel is intended to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by all parties to the conflict, in addition to submitting a report to the High Commissioner during Human Rights Council’s next session in September 2018.

  • Section Four: UN Secretary General’s List of Shame

Amid threats by Saudi Arabia and its allies that they would withdraw hundreds of millions, the UN Secretary General announced on June 6, 2016 that he would de-list the Saudi-led Coalition from the "List of Shame", pending the results that would come out of "a joint review" of the information mentioned in his annual report, which was published in April 2016.However, the unabated serious violations against Yemen's children, and growing calls by rights groups, resulted on October 6, 2017 in an announcement by the UN, listing all parties to the conflict in Yemen, notably the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia; on the "List of Shame": a list produced by the UN Secretary General every year, which includes the perpetrators of the six serious violations against children.

  • Chapter Two: Most Significant Patterns of Human Rights Violations in Yemen

This chapter consists of 14 sections highlighting the most significant patterns of human rights violations committed by parties to the conflict in Yemen.

  • Section One: Starvation as War Tactic and Denying Access to Humanitarian Aid

During 2017, the two parties to the conflict in Yemen: the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the government of President Hadi on the one hand; Ansar Allah (Houthis) group and their former ally President Saleh, on the other; both used starvation as war tactic and denied access to humanitarian aid.In 2017, Mwatana documented no less than 26 incidents of denying access to humanitarian aid. Ansar Allah was responsible for most of these incidents in Sa’ada governorate (23 incidents). Popular Resistance forces and the pro-Hadi forces were responsible for three incidents in Al Dhale'e, Shabwah and Taizz. In 2017, Mwatana documented no less than 26 incidents of access denial of humanitarian aid.The blockade and the closure of Sana'a International Airport before commercial flights by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition have worsened the situation in Yemen. Pro-Hadi armed groups denied access to trucks carrying food or demanded money to grant them access.Similarly, Ansar Allah (the Houthis) and the forces loyal to their former ally, President Saleh, blocked and confiscated trucks carrying humanitarian aid (food and in kind). They also intervened in the delivery of such humanitarian aid to the beneficiaries and imposed rigid restrictions on the work of humanitarian organizations in the areas under their control.

  • Section Two: Aerial Attacks

During 2017, Mwatana documented as many as 89 attacks, which the Saudi-Emirati-led Coalition carried out against civilians and civilian objects in 10 Yemeni governorates. These attacks have resulted in killing at least 357 civilians, including 161 children and 45 women, and wounding 294 others, including 101 children and 56 women. The Coalition has also carried out attacks against houses, markets, schools and farms, as well as fishermen.On March 24, 2017, Mwatana released a press statement, in which it condemned the Coalition's attacks, documented by Mwatana and which led to the death and injury of hundreds of civilians. The statement called on the countries providing support to the Coalition, the U.S. and UK in particular, to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia, because they might be used against civilians and civilian objects. Mwatana also indicated in this statement that it has also documented the Coalition's use of Italian-made weapons, in addition to other attacks, in which U.S. and UK-made weapons were used.

  • Section Three: Indiscriminate Ground Attacks:

During 2017, Mwatana documented no less than 89 ground attacks, most of which in Taizz (66 incidents) in addition to other governorates such as Al-Jawf, Marib, Sana’a, Abyan and Lahj. Ansar Allah (the Houthis) group was responsible for most of these bloody indiscriminate attacks, while the Popular Resistance and pro-Hadi forces were responsible for at least two of these attacks, as verified by Mwatana.These attacks have led to the killing of no less than 160 civilians, including 99 children and 14 women, and wounding 184 civilians, including 92 children and 30 women.In its report “Chapters from Hell”, released in November 2016, Mwatana has documented the use of indiscriminate weapons by the parties to the conflict. Such indiscriminate weapons include the high-explosive guided mortar (HEGM), the RPG-7 and the M-21 Grad Rockets that are launched from BM-21 Grad Rockets Launchers.

  • Section Four: Civilian Casualties of Landmines

In 2017, Mwatana documented no less than 25 incidents of landmine explosions mostly in Taizz which were planted by Ansar Allah (the Houthis) group and the Pro-Saleh forces. In these incidents, Mwatana documented the death of at least 14 civilians, including three women and two children, and injuring of at least 46 others, including 19 women and 14 children.On April 4, 2017, Mwatana released “Concealed Killer” report where it documented 33 incidents of explosion of landmines planted by Ansar Allah (the Houthis) and the Pro-Saleh forces. Mwatana verified such incidents during the period between July 2015 and October 2016 in six governorates.

  • Section Five: Enforced Disappearance

During 2017, Mwatana documented 33 enforced disappearance cases, which Ansar Allah (the Houthis) carried in six Yemeni governorates: Sa’ada, Sana'a, Al Bayda, Dhamar, Al Hudaydah and Taizz. It also documented 68 cases, which armed groups – affiliated to the Saudi-Emirati-led Coalition and pro-Hadi forces– carried in six Yemeni governorates: Aden, Abyan, Lahj, Marib, Hadramaut and Shabwah.

  • Section Six: Arbitrary Detention

In 2017, a total of 69 cases of arbitrary detention, carried out by the Ansar Allah (the Houthis) in seven Yemeni governorates - Sa’ada, Sana’a, Al Jawf, Al Bayda, Taizz, Dhamar and Al Hudaydah- were documented. Fifty-one cases of detention were carried by armed groups affiliated to the Saudi-Emirati-led Coalition and pro-Hadi forces in seven Yemeni governorates - Aden, Abyan, Lahj, Al Dhale'e, Marib, Taizz and Hadramaut.

  • Section Seven: Torture

During 2017, Mwatana documented "29 incidents committed by Ansar Allah (the Houthis), three of which led to death, in four Yemeni governorates, Sa’ada, Sana’a, Taizz and Al Hudaydah. Fifty-two incidents of torture committed by armed groups affiliated to the Saudi-Emirati-led Coalition and pro-Hadi forces in six Yemeni governorates: Aden, Abyan, Lahj, Hadramaut, and Shabwah, including 14 cases where torture led to death.On June 24, 2017, Mwatana published “Torture in Yemen”: Multiple Powers and one Behavior” which shed light on the use of torture in detention centers run by all parties to the conflict in several Yemeni governorates.

  • Section Eight: Violations against the Baha'i Minority

Seven Baha'is, who have been detained over the year 2017, are still in prisons run by the Houthis in Sana'a. Four of them were forcibly disappeared.

  • Section Nine: Violations Against the Press and Journalists

During 2017, Mwatana documented nine cases of violations against fifty journalists. Eight incidents took place in areas under Ansar Allah (the Houthis) control alongside December events in Sana'a. Ansar Allah (Houthis) detained 41 workers in Yemen Today TV affiliated with the family of former President Saleh and the mouthpiece of the GPC and released them two weeks later. Mwatana documented another incident in an area under the pro-Hadi forces. Twelve journalists remain in captivity at detention centers run by Ansar Allah (Houthis).

  • Section Ten: Recruitment of Child Soldiers:

During 2017, Mwatana verified the recruitment and use of as many as 879 children, through 607 observations and interviews conducted by the Mwatana team. Ansar Allah (the Houthis) group and forces loyal to its former ally, Saleh, have recruited 58% of those children, particularly in Sana'a and Sa’ada. The Security Belt forces and the Hadramaut Elite forces, affiliated to the Saudi-Emirati-led Coalition, recruited 21%, particularly in Abyan and Lahj. The pro-Hadi forces and Popular Resistance groups recruited 20%, particularly in Abyan and Al Jawf. The Jihadi groups recruited 1% in the governorates of Lahj and Taizz.

  • Section Eleven: Attack on Hospitals and Medical Teams

In 2017, Mwatana documented no less than 18 cases of attacks on hospitals and medical centers. These attacks were carried by Ansar Allah (the Houthis); the popular resistance groups and the Security Belt forces. Abdul Qader Al-Mutawakil Hospital in Sana’a was occupied by Ansar Allah (the Houthis) in early December 2017.

  • Section Twelve: Attacks on and Use of Schools

During 2017, Mwatana documented 24 incidents in eight Yemeni governorates, where parties to the conflict subjected schools to direct attacks.

  • Section thirteen: Drone Attacks and U.S. Ground Operations

During 2017, after the US President Donald Trump took office earlier in the year, Mwatana documented five drone attacks in Al Bayda and Abyan governorates, in which 9 civilians, including two children and two women, were killed. Mwatana also documented two incidents of U.S. forces landing in Marib and Al Bayda governorates, in which no less than 19 civilians, including 12 children, were killed and no less than 53 others were wounded, including 5 children and 43 women.

  • Section Fourteen: Sana’a Events

In the morning of November 29, 2017, tension soared up between the alliance of Ansar Allah and pro-Saleh forces. Clashes erupted between two parties around Al-Saleh Mosque in Sana'a, as well as near houses belonging to Saleh's relatives. On Friday, December 1st, 2017, there had been a daylong calmness in Sana'a, but the clashes renewed in the evening and intensified over the next two days. The clashes stopped when the Houthis announced the death of former president Saleh on noon of December 4, 2017.Meanwhile, Mwatana documented the death of as many as 11 civilians, including three children, as well as the injury of 23 others, including nine children. It also documented attacks on the Abdul Qader Al-Mutawakil Hospital, which was subjected to gunshots during the clashes. Patients and their relative escorts, as well as health workers, were all trapped inside the hospital almost for an entire day.Download Report PDFPress Realese[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]