Escalation in Yemen: Civilians pay price of recent increase in fighting


The human toll of the armed conflict in Yemen continues to grow, with an estimated 40,000 people in Ma’reb and more than 10,000 in Hodeida forced to leave their homes since September in search of safety. Continuing military operations along several front lines and mines threaten the lives and livelihoods of civilians as well as their access to essential services, including water, food, healthcare and education.

The Head of the ICRC Delegation in Yemen Katharina Ritz witnessed the dramatic impact of the fighting on both sides of the front lines firsthand this month. “Acts of violence against civilians and people under the control of the parties are not only violations of international humanitarian law, they negate the basic principles of humanity,” she said after visiting ICRC teams working to assist frontline communities in Ma’reb and Hodeida. ” Even in the midst of battle, fighters must protect the lives and wellbeing of civilians and of those who stopped fighting.”

Many of the displaced have left their homes with nothing and struggle to secure decent shelter and access to overstretched services for themselves and their families. “Those affected by the fighting and the newly displaced need help urgently”, Mrs. Ritz said. “Some families were forced to move several times and are exhausted. The ICRC urges all parties to the ongoing conflict to limit human suffering by protecting civilian property and essential infrastructure, including health facilities and waterworks, by letting the displaced shelter in safe places away from the fighting and by providing all those working to assist people in need with unconditional and safe access.” As fighting intensifies and displacement continues, this remains a critical message.

Healthcare across the country has been hit particularly hard by the protracted conflict in Yemen and is now further strained in both Ma’reb and Hodeida by the upsurge in fighting. Many hospitals and health centers lack staff, drugs and other supplies, leaving them unable to cope with conflict casualties and other increasing needs.

ICRC staff and YRCS volunteers distributing food and non-food items to conflict-affected and vulnerable families leaving near the front lines in Aldalea governorate, South of Yemen.

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