War on children: 164% rise in Civilian Casualties in Hodeidah

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SHAFAQNA According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, civilian casualties in Yemen have raised 164 percent since June “dramatically” when the Saudi-led coalition launched its brutal siege against the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

Now in its fourth year, the war on Yemen has been led by Saudi Arabia, joined by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and is materially supported by the United States and Great Britain. It has resulted in what the UN has called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” According to UN Secretary General António Guterres, more than 22 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid and protection.

The group’s analysis suggests Hodeidah has become the most violent frontline in the four-year conflict. In recent months, about one-third of the total conflict-related fatalities have been recorded in the governorate, reflecting the bitterness of the struggle for the key port and its surrounding environs, The Guardian reported.

In addition to the slaughter, the Hodeida offensive has cut off the main road to the country’s capital, Sana’a, by which humanitarian aid is delivered to that city’s 8 million inhabitants. And United Nations undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, Mark Lowcock, warned that the dramatic increase in the price of staples such as grain may result in a widespread famine, The Nation noticed.

The Yemeni people face other critical problems such as a lack of access to clean water, electricity, food and so forth. In some besieged areas, children can be seen starving to death. UNICEF also says at least five million Yemenis are affected by water-related diseases, Daily Sabah reported.

There are many people who don’t have access to clean drinking water and so we could see another potential outbreak of cholera.

The hunger crisis is entirely man-made

“The hunger crisis is also entirely man-made. More than three years of heavy fighting, the indiscriminate use of weapons in populated areas and the blockade have pushed millions of children to the brink of starvation.

The people of Yemen are facing multiple threats because of this conflict.

The International Rescue Committee issued a report based on the ALEDP’s findings pointing out that “since 2015, the [US-backed] coalition has undertaken 18,000 airstrikes–one every 99 minutes–one third of which have hit non-military targets.” These strikes are responsible for the great majority of the deaths of more than 16,000 civilians since the war began. Tens of thousands more have died from disease and hunger, and an estimated 8.4 million Yemenis are confronting famine.

According to Al Jazeera, over 22 million Yemenis need humanitarian assistance, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

An average of 166 civilians have died on each of the four months since the coalition effort to control the western port city started, according to data from monitoring group Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). The report represents a 164-percent increase in non-combatant fatalities.

Hodeidah accounted for 51 percent of all civilian casualties in Yemen between June and August this year,” Save the Children said, citing ACLED figures. “During that three-month period, there were at least 349 civilian deaths, with a national total of 685 civilians killed.”

“August was the most violent month of 2018 in Yemen with nearly 500 people killed in just nine days,” International Rescue Committee’s Yemen director Frank McManus said.

In a separate statement, 14 groups including Oxfam and Save the Children said “civilians continue to bear the brunt. Civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as markets, hospitals, school buses and mills continue to be hit by all parties with impunity, as reported by the UN group of eminent experts on Yemen.”

In a report for the United Nations Human Rights Council last month, human rights experts said they had “reasonable grounds to believe that the Governments of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are responsible for human rights violations, including unlawful deprivation of the right to life, arbitrary detention, rape, torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearance and child recruitment, and serious violations of freedom of expression and economic, social and cultural rights, in particular the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to health,” according to NPR.

The greatest weapons exporter and its largest customer

The U.N. previously reported that the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for the majority of civilian casualties in Yemen in 2017.

While all sides are guilty of violations of international humanitarian law, the United States and the United Kingdom are supporting the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition with weapons and military support.

Saudi Arabia imports 61 percent of its arms from the U.S., according to 2017 data from The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The U.K. sends Riyadh 23 percent of its imports, and other European countries provide 15 percent of arms to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia imports only one percent of its weapons from the rest of the world, News week mentioned.

Nearly half of arms sales by the US–the greatest weapons exporter in the world–now go to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia its largest customer, accounting for 18 percent of sales. Total weapons exports set a new record in fiscal 2017, rising to $75.9 billion, wsws reported.

In 2017, alone, the US approved 17.86 billion USD in military sales by corporations to Saudi Arabia, 26.75 times more than US humanitarian aid to Yemen in 2017. In the same year the UK licensed £1.13 billion of arms, Enviros Against War noticed.

The refueling operation is only one of the means by which Washington makes possible the Saudi-led siege of Yemen. The Pentagon provides critical intelligence and targeting assistance from a joint command center in Riyadh and has deployed US warships that back up the Saudi-UAE blockade of the starving country. It also, of course, provides tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry being used to attack Yemen.

War on children

Save the Children field teams are meeting children who have suffered severe and life-changing injuries caused by explosive weapons, from airstrikes to landmines. Treating these injuries is particularly challenging in Yemen, where the health system has all but collapsed, prosthetics are hard to come by, and there are few surgeons trained to treat traumatic injuries,” the fund said, PRESS TV reported.

Speaking from New York, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children, described the situation in Yemen as a “war on children”.

“In the past few months, we’ve seen a shocking spike in violence – from an airstrike that hit a school bus full of children to a bombing near a hospital. Battles are being fought in densely populated urban areas and children end up trapped on the front line, risking death or life-changing injuries,” Thorning-Schmidt said.

“This is a war on children. The world seems to be accepting an outrageous disregard for the conventions of war and children are paying the price.”

Aid agencies have warned that an assault on Hodeidah could shut down one of the last remaining lifelines for millions of hungry civilians. Out of a population of 28 million people, eight million – a number greater than the entire population of Switzerland – are on the verge of famine.

 

Read more from Shafaqna:

Video: Millions of Yemeni children face Famine

After Saudi Slaughter of Yemeni Childrens, Madrid Cancels Arms Sale Deal with Riyadh

UN experts blames all sides for war crimes in Yemen

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