Safety and security of Yemeni civilians at risk unless ceasefire is extended, human rights chief says


Mr Türk has responded to calls from the UN Secretary General to extend the ceasefire and work towards a negotiated solution to end the conflict once and for all.

The outbreak of war more than seven years ago between a pro-government, Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels – along with their supporters – plunged Yemen into an unparalleled humanitarian crisis.

Fewer victims

The truce had brought relative peace. There was a sharp drop in civilian casualties, the flow of fuel deliveries to Hudaydah increased and Sanaa airport reopened after years of closure to commercial flights.

However, the ceasefire expired in early October without the parties to the conflict reaching an agreement to extend it.

Since then, reports have been received that civilians are in grave danger. In the last week of October, the UN rights agency, OHCHR, verified three incidents of shelling in government-controlled area that killed a boy and a man and injured four boys, including two requiring leg amputations.

Three incidents of snipers attributed to Houthi, or Ansar Allah movement forces, in which a boy, a woman and two men were injured, have also been verified. On October 21, Ansar Allah also carried out a drone strike on the Al Dhabah oil terminal in Hadhramaut Governorate, exposing civilians to unwarranted serious risks.

Abide by international law

The UN chief of rights said Friday that all parties to the conflict must strictly adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law when conducting military operations and do their utmost to limit the impact of fighting on civilians.

He reminded the parties to the conflict that they have strict obligations to facilitate humanitarian access to populations in need and to facilitate civilians’ access to humanitarian and life-saving services.

He said that the deliberate attack on civilians and civilian objects is prohibited by international law and is a war crime, and that such attacks should be stopped immediately, while the appropriate authorities should investigate such incidents and hold those responsible accountable.

‘Choose peace’

Briefing journalists in Geneva, OHCHR spokesman Jeremy Laurence added: “It is clear that the suffering of the Yemeni people will continue until this conflict is ended.

“We therefore reiterate the calls of the UN Secretary General who has said it is time for government forces and their allies, along with Ansar Allah forces and their international supporters, to choose peace forever.”

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