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Five Years of War in Yemen – A humanitarian catastrophe

25 March 2020

At a time when millions of people across the world are concerned about food supplies and the ability of our health systems to respond to crisis, Yemen must not be forgotten.


Today marks five years since a Saudi-Arabian led coalition began bombing Yemen – five years in which Yemen’s health system has “almost collapsed.”


Attacks by the Saudi-led coalition have destroyed infrastructure across Yemen. Saudi forces have targeted hospitals, clinics and vaccinations centres. Blockades have starved the population and made it hard for hospitals to get essential medical supplies.


A recent report by Mwatana for Human Rights, an independent Yemeni organisation, documents as many as 120 attacks on health facilities and medical personnel by parties to the Yemen conflict that took place between March 2015 and December 2018. The report notes that:


“The years of conflict have turned Yemen into a humanitarian catastrophe. Its economy is crumbling. Its infrastructure is in tatters. Its health care system has almost collapsed. This state of affairs is not an arbitrary consequence of war. It is the direct result of how the conflict has been prosecuted by warring parties: with utter disregard for international law and humanitarian norms.”


Global Rights Compliance (GRC) are proud to partner with Mwatana on an upcoming investigation and report on the deliberate use of starvation in Yemen.


GRC is currently working to assess how the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect conflict-affected states that suffer from food insecurity. This includes a blog series with Just Security on the impact of coronavirus on humanitarian access in starvation-affected countries with the first part focusing on the legal framework of humanitarian access and the projected impact of COVID-19 in Yemen which will be published in this week.


In 2018, GRC in collaboration with World Peace Foundation have published expert reports and policy papers on starvation in Yemen and assessed the violations and the prospects of accountability of those conflicts. GRC made formal submissions to the OHCHR Group of Eminent Experts for Yemen (GEE) in 2018 and continue to engage with them throughout 2019 and 2020, including hosting them at the Starvation Project End of Phase 1 Symposium in September 2019 and the GRC Starvation Workshop in Beirut in February 2020.


GRC have been engaged on the issue of mass starvation in conflicts since 2017 in conjunction with The Netherlands’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, and a range of civil society organisations, experts in governmental institutions and official organisations, as well as UN mechanisms with a mandate in food insecurity.


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