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January 26, 2022

YEMEN - Mass casualty attacks leave dozens dead and nation blacked out for days

Silver Spring, MD--On Friday, January 21, a series of attacks across Yemen claimed hundreds of casualties, of which 91 people were killed in a mass casualty airstrike on a detention facility in Sa’ada, the most deadly event recorded in more than two years. Around the same time, attacks on a telecom facility housing the country’s key gateway for internet and mobile connectivity plunged the entire nation into the dark. On January 17, a Yemen conflict-related drone attack targeting an oil facility in Abu Dhabi had also killed three people. Humanity & Inclusion urges the parties to the conflict to protect civilians from the horror of the ongoing violence and to stop the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

The attacks on the detention center in the Northern city of Sa’ada killed 91 people and injured hundreds. Hospitals were overwhelmed by a mass influx of wounded people and reportedly, unable to provide assistance to everyone affected due to limited capacities and emergency supplies. 

Other casualties were reported in Hodeidah, where at least three children were killed and many more injured. At the same time, internet and mobile phone networks were lost across the entire nation following attacks on a key telecom facility. The incident severely impacted civilians and humanitarian operations alike, leaving Humanity & Inclusion’s operational communications disrupted for several days.

Other telecommunications sites were also targeted, exacerbating the isolating impact of the conflict on civilians, while an attack on a water reservoir in Sa’ada earlier this month cut 120,000 people off from clean water supply. Numerous airstrikes were further conducted in the vicinity of hospitals and health facilities in the past few days, several of which were reported to have sustained damages as a result.

Although recent escalations have renewed attention for the seven-year-standing brutal armed conflict, the use of indiscriminate airstrikes, artillery shelling and virtually every form of explosive weaponry by both parties to the conflict has never stopped at any point.

Seven years of uninterrupted and systematic destruction of civilian infrastructure has caused death and injury, contributed to hunger and disease, and dramatically reduced the ability of the population to access essential services such as healthcare, clean water and electricity. With over two-thirds of the population considered in need of humanitarian aid, all infrastructure and public services are absolutely indispensable to the survival of the Yemeni people.

“Explosive weapons not only cause death and injury, but wide-scale destruction of hospitals, schools and housing in areas far beyond the initial point of impact as well. Their effects can never be limited to a single structure or service, and in Yemen, these domino effects have shown to be just as deadly as the initial impact of an attack. Bombs and shelling never hit in isolation.” 
-- 
Antoine Jeune, Humanity & Inclusion Yemen Country Director

Humanity & Inclusion urges all parties to the conflict and their allies to abide by their obligations under International Humanitarian Law.

Parties to the conflict and their allies should protect the civilian populations from the horror of the ongoing violence, stop the use of explosive weapons in populated areas as they risk severe harm to civilians and take immediate, practical, measures to eliminate their impact on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

As violence continues to escalate after the Human Rights Council voted to end the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts, the only international and independent body tasked with investigating alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict, we also call on the international community to urgently reinstate an international independent monitoring and reporting mechanism on Yemen.

About Humanity & Inclusion

Humanity & Inclusion is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict, and disaster for 40 years. Working alongside people with disabilities and other people living in situations of extreme vulnerability, 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 it was founded in 1982, Humanity & Inclusion 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. Humanity & Inclusion 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. Humanity & Inclusion takes action and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.