April 3, 2018, Geneva
This statement is made on behalf of 22 international NGOs current working in Yemen.
INGOs are delivering life-saving humanitarian assistance to millions of vulnerable Yemenis, despite the complex and serious nature of the security situation and sustained bureaucratic access constraints.
For the record, we would like to formally acknowledge the dedication and commitment of all national, international and UN humanitarian aid workers in Yemen. Delivering humanitarian assistance in Yemen is neither safe nor simple, particularly for the thousands of Yemeni staff whose work to deliver shows fortitude and courage.
The reality is that despite these gallant efforts, the humanitarian response is still failing to meet the basic needs of the 22 million Yemenis requiring assistance and protection. Yemeni people are dying of preventable illnesses, and the number on the brink of famine continues to rise.
As INGOs we are grateful for the financial commitments made by member states here today, but more is needed to tackle a humanitarian catastrophe of the scale we see in Yemen. What we need is a marked increase in engagement from the international community in the complexities of this conflict in order to reduce the suffering of the Yemeni people.
Therefore, today, INGOs are inviting donors and high-level Ministerial visits to Yemen, to enable you to ground your engagement and approach to supporting the country.
- By being in Yemen you will better understand the short term but also the longer term needs of the Yemeni people, delve into the narrative and stories behind the figures cited in the HNO today. To understand the needs of the two million people that have fled their homes, the plight of the unpaid health worker, the frustration of the teachers with a classroom of hungry children, and the fear the conflict brings to daily life.
- By being in Yemen you will better understand the grounded realities of delivering humanitarian aid and to be better placed to help resolve the daily impediments in delivering that support; to experience the frustration that comes from knowing that people are suffering because we are being prevented from reaching them – that more people could be helped if administration processes were fast tracked and security improved.
- By being in Yemen you will better understand the modalities of the humanitarian response and the need for increased funding for livelihoods, community resilience building, and kick start the process of early recovery in parts of the country where there is some stability.
- By being in Yemen you will better understand the devastation created by the failure of authorities to pay public servants for nearly two years. We need you to take responsibility for finding modalities to address this, and ensure hospitals, schools and water networks are operational.
- By being in Yemen you will better understand that restrictions in imports and unstable supply chains lead to critical shortages, and to see the impact of inflated prices across basic commodities such as food, fuel and medicines.
- By being in Yemen you will better understand that the future of the country is at risk as close to 2 million children are denied access to education.
Finally, by being in Yemen you will foster and strengthen engagement with all important stakeholders. We need leadership from the international community that doesn’t just passively support a peace process but takes an active role in driving it forward.
Despite the generosity of member states and the gallant efforts of the humanitarian response, the plight of the Yemeni people continues to deteriorate. We are all fearful that another year will pass, no progress will be made, and more people will suffer and die.
Since February, Humanity & Inclusion has expanded our scope of action in Yemen to ensure that people with disabilities and other vulnerable individuals are not left on the sidelines during this crisis. We’ve recruited dozens of additional staff members and are now working in seven hospitals in and around Sana’a, the capital of Yemen.
Since 2015, we’ve provided rehabilitation care to 7,500 people, psychological support to 8,500, and distributed 9,800 mobility aids such as crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers. François Olive-Keravec, HI's director in Yemen, describes what has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world:
The fighting continues in Sana’a, with the frontlines established further from the city, as opposed to the situation in November and December last year when they were situated in the city center. There is frequent bombing around the military base close to the airport, to the north of the city, where one of the hospitals we work in is also located.
Waves of injured patients
Injured individuals arrive in waves. It varies according to the intensity of the fighting. Included are victims of explosions, gunfire, car and motorbike accidents. We see a lot of amputations.
One of the challenges facing us in recent months has been the early discharge of patients. As the hospitals are over-crowded, the medical staff have been sending patients home immediately after their surgery. Our teams, who are not part of the hospital staff but providing rehabilitation and psychological support, sometimes find out that a patient has left the hospital without necessary rehabilitation care.
We are trying to convince the hospital staff of the importance of rehabilitation and to provide better patient follow-up, so they can be managed in a rehabilitation center if they need to leave the hospital.
The blockade continues
Sana’a has not suffered from the same shortages as in other parts of the country, but prices have increased dramatically. The blockade put in place on November 6th last year has never really been lifted. There are no commercial flights coming in or out of Sana’a and the activity at the Hodeida port is restricted. The limited imports which are entering the country are nowhere near what is required to meet the population's needs. We have recently experienced difficulties obtaining supplies of crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs, a problem we hope to resolve quickly.
More than 5,000 civilians have been killed and 9,000 injured in the conflict in Yemen over the last three years. More than 70% of the population–21 million Yemenis–need emergency aid and to make matters worse, on November 6, a blockade was imposed, preventing the entry of food, medical supplies, and humanitarian aid into the country. Yemeni ports of entry are beginning to see some desperately needed shipments of food and aid, but 7 million people in the country continue to be on the brink of famine. Arnaud Pont, Yemen emergency desk officer at HI explains the gravity of the situation:
A disastrous humanitarian situation
The crisis in Yemen has led to months of food shortages: 17 million people–60% of the population–are food insecure, of whom 7 million are on the brink of famine. Some 3 million people have been forcibly displaced by violence. Fewer than half of the health centers are operating normally. Forty-nine of the country’s 276 districts are without doctors. Between April and September, a cholera epidemic killed 2,000 people (out of 900,000 suspected cases).Read more
12 days since land, air and seaports in Yemen were closed, aid agencies are appalled by the complacency and indifference of the international community regarding the historic humanitarian disaster now unfolding.
Aid agencies are gravely concerned about a new outbreak of cholera and other water borne diseases. UNICEF warns that they only have 15 days’ left of diphtheria vaccines. They are due to receive a new shipment late November but still have not received clearance. If this vaccine is not brought in, one million children will be at risk of preventable diseases.Read more
Eighteen humanitarian agencies expressed serious concern today over the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition’s decision to temporarily close all entry points to Yemen, effectively sealing the country off. The agencies demand that humanitarian operations are allowed to resume immediately and request clarity on the planned duration of the current closure and contingencies to allow humanitarian supplies to be delivered.Read more
August 31, 2017--The newest annual report on cluster munitions reveals a sharp rise in the number of new casualties of cluster munitions, which more than doubled between 2015 and 2016. Cluster Munition Monitor 2017, co-produced by Handicap International, officially records 971 casualties of cluster munitions in 2016 compared to 419 in 2015. Handicap International calls on States to comply with international law, and to pressure belligerent parties to end the use of this barbaric weapon.
The report finds that 98% of victims of cluster munitions were civilians in 2016, and 41% were children. The conflicts in Syria and Yemen are among the most hazardous in the world for civilians, according to the Monitor.
“In Syria, the use of these weapons shows that the belligerents have a total disregard for civilian lives, and in some cases a deliberate intention to target them,” says Jeff Meer, executive director of Handicap International in the U.S. “Those who survive contact with cluster munition explosions often become amputees, with significant social, economic and psychological consequences for them, their families and their communities.”
Cluster munition usage has been on the rise in Syria since mid-2012. The Syrian conflict alone accounted for 89% of the world’s cluster munition casualties in 2016, that is, 860 victims out of 971. There were 51 new casualties in Laos and 38 in Yemen.
Whereas the vast majority of new casualties were injured or killed in cluster munition attacks, there were 114 casualties of sub-munition remnants in 2016. Because up to 40% of these weapons do not explode on impact, sub-munitions become as dangerous as anti-personnel mines and make entire areas uninhabitable after conflict. Half of accidents reported in 2016 were in Laos, the country most heavily polluted by sub-munitions in the world.
A total of six States and one territory were affected by the use of cluster munitions since January 2015. In addition to Syria and Yemen, the use of cluster munitions was once again reported in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the subject of a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and in Somalia in 2016, and Ukraine, Sudan and Libya in early 2015. According to reliable but unconfirmed reports, cluster munitions appear to have been used in Libya and Iraq in 2016 and early 2017.
Handicap International is alarmed by the widespread and uncontrolled use of these banned weapons. “War has rules and the Oslo Convention is part of that,” Meer says. “Every effort must be made to ensure it is enforced and to end the use of this barbaric weapon in conflict situations. States must ratify, defend, and apply the Oslo Convention, and the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention, and other provisions under International Humanitarian Law.”
Around the world, 26 States and three territories remain contaminated by cluster munition remnants. In 2016, nearly 34 sq. miles of land was cleared and 140,000 sub-munitions were made safe and destroyed. In addition to clearing mines, cluster munitions, and explosive remnants of war, Handicap International calls on States to support risk education and victim assistance programs that are also essential for continuing this vital work.
Handicap International calls on belligerent parties - States and non-State armed groups - to immediately end the use of cluster munitions. Handicap International also calls on States to pressure their allies using cluster munitions to end this practice. Lastly, Handicap International calls on all States to enforce the Convention on Cluster Munitions by immediately ending the sale or transfer of these weapons.
The Cluster Munition Monitor 2017 reviews every country in the world, including those not party to the Convention with respect to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use, production, trade, and stockpiling of cluster munitions, during the period from January 2016 to July 2017.
- Experts available for comment in Washington, DC, and Europe.
- Handicap International advocates will attend the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Geneva, Switzerland from September 4–6, 2017, and are available for comment throughout the conference.
Cluster bombs are weapons containing several hundred mini-bombs called cluster munitions. Designed to be scattered over large areas, they inevitably fall in civilian areas. Up to 30% (or even 40%) do not explode on impact. Like anti-personnel mines, they can be triggered at the slightest contact, killing and maiming people during and after conflicts. By indiscriminately affecting civilian and military targets, cluster munitions violate international humanitarian law.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions banning the use, production, transfer, stockpiling and sale of cluster munitions was opened for signature in December 2008. There are currently 119 State signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
About Handicap International
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization, taking action and campaigning in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 35 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since its founding in 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 and the winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world’s largest prize for humanitarians.
Ninety-eight percent of recorded victims of cluster munitions are civilians, according to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2017, an annual report co-produced by Handicap International. These weapons kill, injure, maim, and cause serious psychological trauma. Up to 40% of submunitions do not explode on impact. They render whole areas uninhabitable, prevent the return of normal social and economic life, and displace people from their homes. These explosive remnants pose a threat to civilians, sometimes for decades after a conflict has ended.Read more
A severe food crisis is advancing across East Africa, Nigeria, and Yemen, with more than 20 million people at risk. Xavier Duvauchelle, Handicap International’s desk officer for the East Africa region, explains the scale of the disaster and how our teams on the ground are responding.Read more
The worldwide use of banned explosive weapons such as landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) increased significantly in 2015, largely due to intensive and systematic bombing of populated areas in recent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Ukraine. To mark the international day of landmine and cluster munition awareness, April 4, Handicap International is calling on the international community to strongly condemn this practice, and for an immediate end to the use of these weapons.
According to the latest Landmine Monitor Monitor report, published in November 2016, there was a sharp rise–70%–in the number of new causalities of mines and ERW. In 2015, these weapons killed or injured at least 6,461 people. This time last year, 79% of people killed and injured in such attacks were civilians. As of today, 90% are civilians.
90% OF VICTIMS ARE CIVILIANS
The Landmine Monitor reported 1,331 casualties of improvised mines, the highest number since the publication of their first annual report in 2000. Handicap International, founder of an international campaign to stop the bombing of civilians is once again calling on States and non-State armed groups to immediately end the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, their sale and transfer, to strongly condemn their use under any circumstances and, when they are party to a conflict, to apply pressure on their allies not to use these weapons.
The Syrian conflict has been particularly marked by the heavy and repeated use of explosive weapons. International NGO Safety Organization (INSO) reports there were 8,656 attacks using explosive weapons in Syria between Sept. 26 and Dec. 28, 2016, accounting for 72% of reported attacks—an average of 94 bombing or shelling incidents a day.
“In Iraq and Syria, the contamination has reached an unprecedented level, which will require years of mine clearance,” explains Thomas Hugonnier, head of Handicap International’s operations in Iraq. “It also makes risk education sessions vital to teach people to respond in the right way when they come across an explosive device and to avoid the risk of accidents.”
Bombing and shelling in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and other conflict zones leave behind ERW that contaminate large area of land long after a conflict is over. “Bombing and shelling not only has a devastating impact during an attack, they also leave behind large quantities of explosive remnants of war, since a significant proportion of weapons do not explode on impact,” explains Anne Héry, director of advocacy at Handicap International.
When neighborhoods or villages are covered in ERW, it makes it difficult for society and the economy to return to normal. “These explosive remnants continue to put civilian lives at risk long after the fighting is over," Anne continues. "They pose exactly the same threat as anti-personnel mines."
According to a mine action rapid assessment published in November 2016 by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) on the level of contamination in Syria, more than 3.6 million Syrians live in areas contaminated by explosive remnants of war and improvised devices. Nearly 1.5 million people live in areas where incidents related to explosive devices have been reported and unexploded devices have been reported in 20% of the territory.
Handicap International is calling on States and non-State armed groups to immediately end the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, their sale and transfer, to strongly condemn their use under any circumstances and, when they are party to a conflict, to apply pressure on their allies not to use these weapons.
- As a member of the INEW (International Network on Explosive Weapons) coalition, Handicap International has drawn up a political declaration on ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It is calling on States to sign it and support it.
- Handicap International launched a global campaign on March 15, to collect one million signatures to “stop bombing civilians.” The signatures will be presented to policy makers in September 2018, urging the international community to strongly condemn this practice and to bring it to an end.
- Click here to download Handicap International’s latest crisis situation report.
EXPERTS AVAILABLE IN JORDAN, LEBANON, FRANCE
ABOUT HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 35 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since its founding, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, and the winner of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2011. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.
Twenty million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeastern Nigeria have been grappling with a serious food crisis since 2016. Several East African countries have been hit by drought in recent months, including Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, South Sudan and, to a lesser extent, Tanzania. In some countries, conflicts have caused severe food shortages. Handicap International is preparing to deal with one of the worst humanitarian crises since the Second World War.Read more