Yemen’s Civilians Suffer as Myriad of Armed Groups Intensify Attacks

The United Nations human rights office is reporting that intensified attacks by a myriad of armed groups in Yemen are having a devastating impact on civilians throughout the war-torn country.

Dozens of armed groups, including those affiliated with the al-Qaida and Islamic State terror groups, reportedly are escalating attacks in Yemen, adding to the misery of civilians who have suffered through more than four years of civil war.

Since July 27, the U.N. human rights office has verified 19 civilian deaths and 42 civilians injured in Taiz, Sa’ada and Aden. In addition, the agency says civilian infrastructure, including medical and educational facilities, have been hit and damaged during attacks.

U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says groups affiliated with the Houthi rebels allegedly have launched indiscriminate attacks in Taiz. She says IS militants and al-Qaida, in separate assaults, have attacked police stations and military camps in Aden and Abyan in the south.

She says these actions have triggered retaliation by the “security-belt” forces, a paramilitary force supported by the Saudi-led coalition.

“We have received information from multiple sources about arbitrary arrests and detention, forced displacement, physical assaults and harassment as well as looting and vandalism by the security forces against hundreds of northerners. Reports suggest that the security forces have searched hotels and restaurants, stopping people, demanding their identification, and rounding up those hailing from the northern parts of Yemen,” she said.

Shamdasani says such actions breach international human rights and humanitarian law. She tells VOA the warring parties cannot do whatever they wish with impunity because there are rules and laws governing the conduct of hostilities.

“Rounding up people who hail from a particular part of the country, harassing them, subjecting them to arbitrary arrest and forcibly displacing them — that is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. Indiscriminate attacks and the use of indiscriminate weapons, such as landmines, clearly breach international humanitarian law,” she said.

The U.N. human rights office urges all parties to the conflict to de-escalate the situation. It says they must investigate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.