Intensified Al Qaeda and ISIL activity in Yemen ‘deeply worrying’, says UN Human Rights Office

OCHA/Eman Damage caused by fighting in Abyan Governorate, southern Yemen (file photo)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Armed groups affiliated with the Al Qaeda and ISIL terror groups, appear to have intensified their activities in Yemen, Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) declared on Tuesday, describing the situation as an example of “deeply worrying developments” that have seriously impacted civilians over the past ten days.

In a statement, the spokesperson noted that, during the period, the Office has verified 19 civilian deaths, and 42 injured, in districts of Taiz, Sa’ada and Aden.

The majority of the deaths resulted from an attack in the Al Thabet market area of Sa’ada Governorate on 29 July, in which 14 civilians were killed and 26 injured.

In the Al-Rawdhah neighbourhood of Taiz, Houthi-affiliated forces allegedly launched indiscriminate attacks on July 28, killing one child and injuring three other civilians, and reportedly attacked a hospital emergency department and ambulances on July 31.

In Aden and Abyan governerate, attacks on police and military installations claimed by Al Qaeda and Houthis were reported on August 1-2: civilians from the northern parts of Yemen have reportedly been victims of retaliation from “Security Belt” paramilitary forces, including assault, harassment and forcible displacement to areas bordering other governorates.

The spokesperson went on to detail reports of attacks on Yemenis from the north of the country, by security forces: “we have received information from multiple sources about arbitrary arrests and detention, forced displacement, physical assaults and harassment, as well as looting and vandalism”.

Reports also suggest that security forces have rounded up northern Yemenis during searches of hotels and restaurants, added the spokesperson, who reminded the warring groups that
such arrests and forced displacements breach international human rights and humanitarian law:

“Parties to a non-international armed conflict may not order the displacement of the civilian population, in whole or in part, for reasons related to the conflict, unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand”.

The escalating military situation in the Al Dhale region of southwest Yemen, which has seen the use of landmines, airstrikes, shelling and ground fighting, remains a deep source of concern for the UN Human Rights Office.

Since March, the conflict has resulted in at least 26 civilian deaths and 45 injured, although, due to lack of access to the area, the figures are likely to be much higher, said the spokesperson.

Parts of the population in Al Dhale are not receiving any water supplies, she continued, with the only water reserve there, reportedly under the control of the Houthis, and many water pumps damaged or otherwise out of action.

In the statement, the spokesperson urged all parties to the conflict to “seek to de-escalate the situation, and to ensure that any attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are meaningfully investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice”.

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