Yemen in the Inferno of War and Children Suffering from Famine and Disease

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Publish Date : 06/10/2017 13:27
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A wide range of acts from the massacre of civilians, women and children in particular to strikes against religious, historic and medical places are in the war record sheet of Saudi led coalition. The sustenance, hygiene and medical conditions in Yemen according to the UN and its legal sub-bodies have reached critical conditions.

Over two years have passed (26 March 2015) since the Saudi led coalition’s military aggression against the sovereign state of Yemen, on the pretext of returning to power of the resigned president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the disarming of Ansarollah, and during this period the Saudi led coalition have committed the most horrific war crimes in the country.
The sustenance, hygiene and medical conditions in Yemen according to the UN and its legal sub-bodies have reached critical conditions. But to-date no international legal authority has taken any steps in the condemnation of these war crimes and has remained silent. In its military aggression, the Saudi led coalition has committed war crimes, aggression and crimes against humanity.

1 – Saudi led coalition war crimes: many natural and legal authorities have mentioned the coalition’s war crimes committed in Yemen. Published reports state that the coalition has attacked residential areas, markets, workshops, hospitals, religious and historic properties, museums, schools and etc.

Attacks against schools and education centres which according to figures include 763 schools and academies, 13 universities, destruction of 25 historic and civilization monuments of the country in the cities of Saada,Sanaa and Mareb are places that have been registered at UNESCO, have been subject to Saudi fighter jet attacks.
2 – Crimes against humanity too which is stated in Article 7 of the Rome ICC Statute, have taken place according to international legal authorities. According to figures, over 85 percent of the Yemeni population needs humanitarian aid. In view of the difficult sustenance conditions and shortages of medicines and medical care and the critical health situation, it is estimated that with the lengthening of the war, we shall witness heavy human losses in Yemen. Creating restrictions by neighbouring and other countries in humanitarian aid reaching Yemen, and the critical human conditions in the country are all examples of crimes against humanity which have been committed by the Saudi led coalition.

3 – Saudi led coalition’s crimes of aggression are completely clear in accordance with international documents such as the UN Charter (Articles 1, 2(4)). According to Article 2(4) “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.

Also examples stated in Articles 39, 41 and 42, particularly Article 39, which states:’ The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.” So with this determination, Saudi led coalition’s established crime of aggression must be recognised and be put to international prosecution. Furthermore, according to UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 (XXIX) and the definition of aggression that it has provided, the Saudi led coalition has committed crime of aggression. In other words, the sole use of armed forces to change or reform the government of a country without getting the permission or the request of the targeted country is a clear example of aggression.
These three cases regarding is evident in the Saudi aggression against Yemen. But what is more important is the horrific conditions of innocent women and children, which according to the Yemeni Health Ministry in the last two months has resulted in death and injuries of approximately 32,749 people, 26,460 of which are killed children, and 1,922 are killed women, and another 2,723 injured children. There are also heart wrenching figures regarding acute and very acute malnutrition and also the spread of cholera among Yemeni children that have been published by the WFO and UNICEF, which show the severity of the sustenance, health and medical situation of the country. Cholera first broke out in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa and quickly spread to other towns.
At the international level and the stated legal instances that include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, Geneva Four Conventions (1949) attention has been given to women and children’s rights particularly during armed conflict and military aggression, and these kinds of treatments of women and children and civilians are condemned.

UN Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict of 1974
This nonbinding Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1974, according to which “Attacks and bombings on the civilian population, inflicting incalculable suffering, especially on women and children, who are the most vulnerable members of the population, shall be prohibited, and such acts shall be condemned.” Also, “All efforts shall be made by States involved in armed conflicts, military operations in foreign territories or military operations in territories still under colonial domination to spare women and children from the ravages of war.” At the end the Declaration states that ’ Women and children belonging to the civilian population and finding themselves in circumstances of emergency and armed conflict in the struggle for peace, self-determination, national liberation and independence, or who live in occupied territories, shall not be deprived of shelter, food, medical aid or other inalienable rights, in accordance with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child or other instruments of international law.”

International Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 24
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.
2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
(a) To diminish infant and child mortality;
(b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care;
(c) To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution;
(d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers;
(e) To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breast-feeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents;
(f) To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.
3. States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of the children.
4. States Parties undertake to promote and encourage international co-operation with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the right recognized in the present article. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

The current situation in Yemen from the sustenance, welfare and health are in critical conditions. Two years after the Saudi led coalition’s launch of aggression against this country have passed and in this period all infrastructures, economic and medical facilities of the country have been destroyed, and more than 85% of the people need humanitarian aid. This has been confirmed by international legal authorities. Unfortunately international legal and criminal authorities have not condemned this.
Apparently all declarations, conventions and legal texts are only pertinent in the written form and none have been realistically applied in the case of the people of Yemen. And no declarations and resolutions have been issued in official condemnation of Saudi Arabia. The only instance is Resolution 2216 from which it is perceived that the UN and Security Council and international laws are solely tools which are used by powerful nations when their own interests are at stake. The only instance is Resolution 2216 of the Security Council with regards to Yemen, which takes a passive and cautious approach to the situation, which indicates that the Security Council performs contrary to its objectives which are the preservation of international peace and security.
But international community is aware that the dominant political atmosphere of these international authorities and also the presence of the American and European supporters of the Saudi led coalition, which is the main obstacle in the way of the lack of international legal action required from them.
The UN General Assembly, the Security Council, the ICC, ICRC, Human Rights Watch and all other international bodies in various legal and criminal fields, in spite of the existence of laws, must swiftly take necessary action and prevent the continuation of war crimes committed by the Saudi led coalition in Yemen.



By: Sanaz Moazezi
International Law senior expert


UN Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict of 1974
International Convention on the Rights of the Child
Jean-Marie Henckaerts and Louise Doswald-Beck, International Humanitarian Law, translated by the International Relations Office of the Judiciary, Iran 2012

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“ Yemen in the Inferno of War and Children Suffering from Famine and Disease ”