“Attacks on Yemeni civilians are happening every week with impunity,” said Suze van Meegen, Protection and Advocacy Advisor for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Yemen. “Among those killed in last night’s airstrike are children and elderly people with no interest or role in this war, now dead because of it. A few of them had fled to Sana’a for safety after their neighbourhoods were bombed. Influential governments can stop this carnage immediately but what they’re doing instead is fuelling the fire that is destroying an entire nation.”
The 5,676 airstrikes reported in Yemen during the first half of 2017 exceeds the total number from throughout 2016. Likewise, the incidence of reported armed clashes has increased by 56% each month.
Ali Mansour lost his brother, sister-in-law and five nieces during the heavy airstrikes on a residential area of Sana'a last night. Ali, who lives nearby, was on the phone to his brother during the attacks and lost connection. Following the fifth strike, Ali drove to check on his brother's family and found their home destroyed. “I was searching in the rubble for more than 14 hours before we found my brother’s body. Now he is in the mortuary,” he said.
NRC’s Communications Officer in Yemen, Nuha Mohammed, visited the bombed out site Friday.
“I saw blood and destruction everywhere – broken toys and scattered kitchen supplies among piles of concrete and rock. People lost their families, their homes and their livelihoods; many were looking desperately for loved ones under the rubble,” she said. “One man had lost seven close relatives. He was in shock and his clothes covered in blood. Everyone was terrified that there would be more airstrikes.”
On Monday, NRC sent an open letter to the UN, US, and UK expressing grave concern about the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen. In the letter, NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland calls on the United Nations Security Council and international community to take immediate action.
“In Yemen, we see a senseless internal conflict fuelled by regional powers, and aggravated by blockades and sanctions that are causing the collapse of a whole society. The US and the UK are backing the Saudi-led coalition that is bombing and blockading a country in which millions of Yemenis face violence, hunger and disease,” said Egeland.
In the letter, Egeland has called on UN bodies and governments with influence over parties to Yemen’s conflict to address the causes of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with demands including:
- An immediate ceasefire to allow for the delivery of critical humanitarian supplies to Yemenis facing hunger and disease, including cholera,
- The immediate lifting of all impediments preventing delivery of commercial and humanitarian goods and personnel,
- New UN, UK, and US-led peace talks that compel parties to the conflict to agree to an inclusive, implementable and sustainable plan for peace in Yemen, and
- Urgent action to address the breakdown of public services caused by the diversion of funding from Yemen’s government services to the war effort.
Read the full letter here
Notes to editors
- NRC has spokespeople in Yemen available for interviews
- Photos and B-roll from the site of the bombing collected today can be found for free use and distribution here: https://nrc.smugmug.com/Country-Programs/Yemen/2017/Airstrike-25-08-2017/n-PXfxHh/i-MnDsw39