yemeni children
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Houthi crimes and violations against cities and civilians-UNHCR event transcript

By | Rachel Brooks

September 23, 2020

The following is a translation from the original Arabic transcript. Translation was made possible by Google, Yandex, and Microsoft powered tools.

Pictured above, Yemeni children who were photographed by Rod Waddington in 2013. Children are especially vulnerable to the crimes of the Houthis, as this event highlighted. CC BY SA 2.0 generic.

Seminar entitled “Houthi crimes and violations against cities and civilians”

Venue: Conference Center

When: September 23, 2020 at 3 pm

Moderator: Mr. Nasser Al-Qadari, President of the Dutch-Yemeni Center for Defense of Rights and Freedoms

Speakers:

Dr. Astrid Stockelberger, academic at the University of Geneva and Lausanne

Basem Al-Absi, a human rights activist

Mansour Al-Shaddadi, President of the Yemeni European House

The session chair, Mr. Al-Qadari, began his speech by introducing the speakers and stressed that all countries of the region will not be secure unless a ban is imposed on Iran to ensure that Iran does not continue to support terrorist organizations and armed groups in the region.

Speaking about the silence of the international community and human rights organizations about the deliberate shelling of civilian security by Houthi militias, Al-Absi noted Sana’a’s UN office had fallen subject to the Houthi agenda.

“The UN office in Yemen, which is based in Sana’a and is subject to the Houthis’ agenda, is angering civil society, activists and humanitarian stakeholders,” said Al-Absi.

“Donors are providing huge and huge funds to Yemen, and the United Nations is handing over aid to the Houthis in different ways, and has given them many things that are totally incompatible with the principles and values of the international community. One of the practices of the Houthi militias is the confiscation of humanitarian aid and pressure on the world through their heinous crimes.”

“Perhaps the follower of the Yemeni scene during the past period is noticing an unprecedented increase in foreign organizations inside Yemen, working in partnership with other organizations in various provinces of the Republic and under multiple headings, including serving the community and providing assistance to it in a number of aspects, including other activities, and trading in the suffering of the people without actually alleviating this suffering,” continued Al-Absi.

“But it has reached the point of neglecting the lives of the target groups by monitoring hundreds of tons of spoiled and unusable food and medicines. UN organizations working in Yemen have turned into a mirror of the Houthi coup militia’s coup d’état in financial corruption, looting aid and starving Yemenis, rather than rescuing those affected by a possible famine.”

Al-Absi then described the famine issues in more detail:

Financial corruption, looting of aid and starvation of Yemenis, instead of saving those affected by a possible famine.


Over the past years, UN organizations have been reported that Yemen is in the worst humanitarian situation in the world, so the United Nations received $2.5 billion in funding at the 2019 donor conference, a record compared to previous years.


In 2019, UN organizations did not implement even a quarter of what they pledged at the Geneva conference, while 70 percent of donor funding went in the form of operational expenses, and the UN was involved in handing over projects to local partners imposed by the Houthi coup militia, which is financially charged with extortion on international organizations.

Al-Absis then referred to blatant international complicity, where he stated that the international organizations are harnessing all their potential for the Houthi coup militia since the beginning of the war, but secretly, but the past months began to complicity more clearly, which later evolved into a squabbling of statements and an exchange of accusations between the two sides.

In Hodeidah province, joint Yemeni forces revealed that the UN mission’s headquarters had been transformed into a Houthi barracks with coup snipers on its roof in order to ensure that they were not targeted by government forces. Government forces also revealed the killing of Iranian experts who were part of a group of Houthi militia leaders inside the UN headquarters, in collusion that puts more than a question mark on the role of UN organizations inside Yemen.


He spoke about the corruption of international organizations financially, since over the past years, the UN organizations have been caught up in the constant pressure of the Houthi militia, and have recruited hundreds of coup supporters in a number of international agencies in Sana’a, which marked the beginning of corruption deals that were at the expense of the forces of Yemenis, 80 percent of whom are now on the poverty line.

He said the Al-Houthi terrorist militia has committed a number of horrific crimes against civilians, which it asserts ‘deliberately committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, deliberately killing directly and systematically and targeting children and civilians.

Despite repeated condemnations and condemnations, the continued and unjustified silence of international organizations, the United Nations and its envoy to Yemen over the repeated and deliberate crimes committed by Houthi militias is blatantly, deliberately and systematically committed by The Houthi militias.


He said that here is silence from the international community, which encouraged the continuation of the violations of the Houthis and civil society organizations called on the international community to disclose its position on the crimes of the Houthi militias, stressing that the silence on these crimes is considered by the Houthi militias permission to continue to commit crimes.

The Houthi organizations blamed the United Nations and the United Nations for their silence on the killings, bombings and intimidation that led to The Houthi militias continuing to commit such crimes on a daily basis, taking advantage of the hazy attitudes of the United Nations and its envoy to Yemen.

He spoke of the disregard of UN envoy Martin Griffiths and that he is the worst UN representative in Yemen ever since, as to date, Martin Griffiths has achieved little success as the United Nations has failed to protect its workers who have been subjected to repeated attacks, most recently the assassination of Yemeni liaison officer Colonel Mohammed Al-Salhi, who died of a houthi sniper bullet while working at a UN observation post in the vicinity of The City of Hodeidah.

He spoke of the disregard of UN envoy Martin Griffiths and that he is the worst UN representative in Yemen ever since, as to date, Martin Griffiths has achieved little success as the United Nations has failed to protect its workers who have been subjected to repeated attacks, most recently the assassination of Yemeni liaison officer Colonel Mohammed Al-Salhi, who died of a houthi sniper bullet while working at a UN observation post in the vicinity of The City of Hodeidah.


He said that Griffths and the international community are linking the humanitarian side to the political, and trying to exploit the conditions of the Yemenis to stabilize the coup and empower Iran’s arm in the Arabian Peninsula. Every time a UN peace initiative is announced, international organizations are instructed to issue statements indicating the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen to prompt the legitimate government to make concessions, because the Houthis, of course, do not care about the humanitarian situation, but have a major role in exacerbating it by treating Yemenis as hostages and implementing a matrix of actions that cause these disasters to achieve political, military and economic objectives.

Every time a UN peace initiative is announced, international organizations are instructed to issue statements indicating the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen, in order for this to push the legitimate government to make concessions, because the Houthis naturally do not care about the humanitarian situation, but rather have a major role in exacerbating it by dealing with Yemenis are held hostage and implement an array of measures that cause these disasters to achieve political, military and economic goals.


Dr. Stockelberger spoke about the consequences of the chronic Houthi attacks on civilians, proceeding as follows:

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is the worst in the world, with more than three quarters of the population in need of humanitarian aid and protection. 75% of the population – in urgent need of protection, millions without drinking water. Clean, without knowing where to get food from, and residents are at great risk for a cholera epidemic.


I talked about the bombing by the Houthis on the civilian population and their obstruction of the arrival of basic aid to stay alive, and this has become a chronic behavior of the Houthis against international law. Because of the continuing violation of human rights by the Houthis with impunity and ill-treatment by the international community. You mentioned that the situation with Coronavirus is exacerbating the humanitarian and health emergency, as 1962 confirmed cases have been reported in Yemen, including 567 deaths and 1,133 recoveries, since the first case was reported on April 10, 2020.


She said that women and children are subjected to widespread violations by the Houthis, as children are forcibly recruited by the Houthis and forced to work to help their families survive. About a quarter of school-age children are out of school, and 2,500 schools have been damaged or unable to function.

Half of the health facilities are damaged or unable to function.
She indicated that millions of Yemenis do not have access to safe drinking water, and cholera could reappear. Where more than a million people suffered in the past year from cholera or watery diarrhea. She concluded her speech and emphasized that ending the conflict is the only way to solve the humanitarian crisis.


Al-Shaddadi talked about the targeting of Yemeni cities with Houthi missiles and mortar shells. His speech proceeded as follows.

Yemeni cities, especially the most populated cities that are outside the control of the Houthi militia, are constantly targeting residential areas and neighborhoods, whether with ballistic missiles or drones and Katyusha shells.

The governorates of Ma’rib, Taiz, and before it, Aden and Al-Jawf, were the cities most targeted by militias, in what constitutes a strategy adopted by the militias to seek to undermine security and frighten civilians in areas that are out of their control or refused to be present there. The continuing missile attacks on these governorates pose a serious threat to millions of local residents, in addition to the displaced and civilians fleeing militia-controlled areas, who have taken from Marib, for example, a destination to live away from the control of sectarian and racist militias. This targeting exacerbates the bad and deteriorating humanitarian situation, in addition to the human and material casualties and civilian casualties caused by these strikes.

According to statistics mentioned in the report published on the governorate’s official website, the Houthis targeted Marib with 112 ballistic missiles and 132 Katyusha rockets, and these missiles caused the death and injury of 689 civilians, with official and medical documentation. The casualties are distributed according to age groups, including the killing of 112 children and women, and the injury of 47 children and eight women and the elderly. And a report from the Rasd Alliance documented statistics of the number of victims by projectiles and missiles, so that Al Dhale’e led the Yemeni governorates in the casualties, as (219) people were recorded in these missile attacks, followed by Hajjah governorate with (152) dead, then Taiz governorate with (103) One was killed, then Al-Hudaydah Governorate was (96) dead.

He talked about the Iranian regime’s supplying the militia with military technology and smuggling weapons, as follows.

The Iranian involvement in supplying the Houthi militias with missiles and military technology through smuggling is no longer what is being circulated by only those who reject and those affected by this measure. Rather, it came to the official statement by the Iranian army yesterday and its recognition of the transfer of the Iranian experience in The missile field to Yemen, where the spokesman for the Iranian forces, Abu al-Fadl Shikaraji, said that Iran has transferred its technological experience in the defense field to Yemen so that the Yemenis can manufacture missiles and drones on their own.

This is the first official announcement by the Iranian army after it denied any involvement He has the authority to supply the Houthis with weapons despite the international authorities ’confirmation of those incidents and the seizure of large quantities of advanced weapons at sea, and their destination was the Houthi militia. The Central Command announced several times that it had seized large shipments of Iranian weapons in the Arabian Sea, and its destination was to supply the Houthi militia with weapons.

The latest seizures were announced by the US Central Command, last February, about the seizure of the US Navy team For weapons by the USS Normandy ship, for a large amount of weapons, including (150) Iranian-made “Dahlawi” anti-tank missiles, an Iranian copy of the Russian Kornet missile, and (3) surface-to-air missiles designed and manufactured individually and from the “358” model, As well as parts of maritime drone systems carried on simple sailing ships used by Iran to smuggle weapons and bans to its allies.

Other weapons were also seized in this shipment and the seized shipment in November 2019, including night binoculars and parts of the unmanned aircraft components of the engines and related parts. Yemeni cities, especially the densely populated city of Ma’rib and Taiz, are being targeted with these missiles and military technology imported from Iran.

He talked about the position of the international community and said that the Yemeni government has called in more than one position to adopt a strict policy by the international community to pressure Iran, and greater international pressure on Iran to stop the smuggling of arms and military technology shipments to the Houthi militia.

The government’s demand has been repeated for the international community, especially every time the United States of America, through its navy and the Central Command, announces that it has stopped arms shipments in the Arabian Sea, including various Iranian-made missiles, that were on their way to the Houthi militia. Unfortunately, there is no real response by the international community to the governmental appeals and we have not seen any Measures taken, whether by hinting at deterrent penalties or forming naval and military oversight committees, can curb the smuggling of weapons.

Recommendations from the panel included the following.


1- We urge all parties of the war to abide by international humanitarian law, which calls for preventing the targeting of populated mandates with rockets or missiles.


2- We ask the international community to pressure Iran to prevent it from exporting and smuggling weapons to the Houthis and the devastating militias in the rest of the troubled regions in the Middle East.

3- We must internationally supported technical and military committees to curb arms smuggling, discover smuggling networks and impose sanctions on those who run them and pursue them internationally.

4- Provide Yemeni government outlets with the necessary technical equipment to stop arms smuggling and prohibitions.