Handicap International and five other aid agencies have condemned a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a hospital supported by Doctors without Borders (MSF) in Abs, in Hajja governorate in Yemen. Oxfam, Care, Handicap International, Mercy Corps, Intersos and Save the Children called for an independent investigation into Monday's attack, the fourth on an MSF-supported facility in Yemen in less than a year that comes just two days after an airstrike on a school killed ten children and injured 28 others in the Saada Governorate.
Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, Oxfam Yemen Country Director, said: “This was a horrific attack killing sick and injured people and the medical staff desperately trying to help them. The world cannot continue to turn a blind eye as the most vulnerable suffer in this terrible conflict. We urge all parties to the conflict to reach a political solution to stop the violence and put an end to the bloodshed."
Edward Santiago, Save the Children’s Yemen Country Director, said: “The Saudi Arabia-led Coalition claims to have taken measures to prevent and end grave violations against children but they are clearly not working if children continue to be killed and injured and schools and hospitals attacked.”
“These airstrikes on a school, then a hospital, have devastating consequences for civilians,” says Anne Héry, head of advocacy and institutional relations. “This is totally unacceptable. Handicap International is demanding an investigation into these attacks and is once again calling on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to immediately refrain from launching airstrikes against civilians.”
As violence resumed last week following the failure of the recent peace talks in Kuwait, civilians continue to be deliberately put at the center of the conflict. The escalation of attacks and the closure of Yemen’s main airport are putting millions of people at risk.
Air strikes were identified as responsible for 60% of the 785 children killed and 1,168 wounded in Yemen last year. In recent weeks civilian casualties have continued to mount with the UN recording 272 deaths and 543 injuries in the four months from April to August this year.
More than 2.8 million people have fled their homes because of the daily bombardments and shelling since the beginning of the conflict.
The UN and human rights organizations report widespread allegations of breaches of the laws of war in Yemen by all parties to the conflict.
Handicap International and 11 other aid agencies today called on the Saudi-led coalition to lift restrictions on Yemeni airspace and allow the reopening of the country's main airport, Sana’a International, to allow humanitarian flights to resume.
“The closure of Yemen’s main airport, which serves much of the country, is inexcusable when millions of Yemeni families are in urgent need of life-saving assistance," said Syma Jamil, NRC Country Director on behalf of the INGOs in Yemen.
“The closure only serves to make it even more difficult for aid agencies to get help to those that desperately need it, cutting off an important humanitarian assistance lifeline. All parties to the conflict must ensure that they allow humanitarian aid to reach the Yemeni population, in line with their obligations under international law.”
As a result of the conflict, over 14 million Yemenis are in need of food aid. One in three Yemeni children under five years old–approximately 1.3 million–are suffering from acute malnutrition.
Alongside humanitarian flights, commercial flights, which also often bring in vital supplies and allow the free movement of civilians, should also be allowed to recommence.
Jamil added: “The closure effectively seals Yemen off to the rest of the world at a time when half the population is malnourished and hospitals urgently require more medicine and medical supplies.
“We call on the Saudi-led coalition to immediately lift all airspace restrictions and allow the airport to be re-opened without further delay.”
The announced closure of Yemen’s airspace for a period of 72 hours was made on Monday, August 8. As of Sunday, August 14, the airspace remains closed.
The airspace closure coincides with a resumption of airstrikes on Sana’a and other parts of Yemen, which put the lives of Yemeni civilians as serious risk. Already the first civilian casualties–including children–from renewed aerial bombardments are being reported.
The following NGOs participated
- Action Contre la Faim/Action Against Hunger
- Danish Refugee Council
- Global Communities
- Handicap International
- International Rescue Committee
- Mercy Corps
- Norwegian Refugee Council
- Save The Children
Weekend media contact (Mica) | (202) 290 9264
The worldwide use of banned explosive weapons such as landmines and cluster bombs increased significantly in 2014 and 2015, largely due to unchecked use in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar, and Tunisia. 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.
Banned under international law, these weapons have been used at an alarming rate in recent years. Cluster munitions use is at its highest level since 2010, when the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force. Handicap International is calling on States and non-State armed groups to immediately end the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, as well as their sale, and transfer. Any use of these weapons must be unanimously and systematically condemned.
According to the latest Cluster Munition Monitor report, published in August 2015, cluster munitions were used in five countries between July 2014 and July 2015: Libya, Syria, Sudan, Ukraine, and Yemen—all States which have not signed the treaty. Not since the ban treaty entered into force in 2010, have so many States or non-State actors been involved in the use of cluster munitions. The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) has also found cluster munitions used on numerous occasions in Yemen and Syria.
In stark contrast, the Cluster Munition Monitor found only two countries impacted by the use of cluster munitions in 2011 and 2012, and three in 2013.
79% of victims are civilians
The latest Landmine Monitor report, published in November 2015, found an alarming and “significant increase” in the use of anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices by non-State armed groups in ten countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Yemen. The last time the Monitor reported use of these weapons in ten or more countries was 2006.
The vast majority of casualties of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions are civilians—79% of reported casualties.
“The repeated use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions reveals a total disregard for civilian lives and, in some cases, a deliberate intention to target them,” says Emmanuel Sauvage, the organization's anti-mine action regional coordinator, based in Amman, Jordan. “Cluster munitions kill and main during an attack. They also leave explosive remnants behind that function like anti-personnel mines and can cause casualties long after a conflict has ended.”
Yemen is a particularly revealing example. For several months, explosive weapons have been used by all parties to the conflict on a massive scale in populated areas. Anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions have been deployed regularly. In May 2015, Human Rights Watch, for example, confirmed the use of cluster munitions in the north of the governorate of Saada, close to the border with Saudi Arabia. Cluster munitions landed less than 600 meters from several dozen homes. Anti-personnel mines were also used on several occasions this summer. In total, since March 2015, Human Rights Watch has recorded 15 incidents involving six types of cluster munitions in at least five of Yemen’s 21 governorates: Amran, Hajja, Hodaida, Saada, and Sanaa.
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.
PHOTO: Saeed, a Handicap International physical therapist, works with a patient at the Al-Thawra hospital in Sanaa, one of the main hospitals providing care for victims of the conflict.Read more