Examples of heavy destruction in Aden, in the South of Yemen. | ©ISNA Agency / HI
Entering its 8th year, the war in Yemen has been defined by flagrant and consistent violations of international humanitarian law, leaving hundreds of thousands killed and injured, millions displaced and over two thirds of the population in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. Even after seven years of conflict, indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population and infrastructure remain widespread, continuing to cause significant material damage, maiming and loss of life.
As a result, needs continue to rise and become more complex throughout Yemen, but not just along the frontlines of conflict where the violence rages on relentlessly. In fact, after seven years of incessant warfare, it has become clear that the cumulative impact of the conflict has become one of the most, if not the most pressing challenge the country has yet to face.
It is estimated that the cumulative impact of the past seven years of fighting with successive degradation of infrastructure and services has already killed around 377,000 Yemenis, a whopping 60% of which as a result of indirect consequences of conflict.
The devastating impact of the war in Yemen goes well beyond the excessive deaths and civilian casualties directly caused by continued armed violence. Indeed, after seven years, the needs in Yemen are more complex than ever before, with systemic issues such as acute economic decline, the total rupture of social fabric and the decimation of public infrastructure and services being some of the leading causes of civilian suffering. In fact, in Yemen, a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes related to the conflict.
“Across the country, the secondary impacts of the conflict have proven just as deadly, and even affect a much greater number of people than those in the vicinity of direct attacks.” Yasmine Daelman, HI Yemen Advocacy & Policy Advisor
Devaluation of the local currency along with a never-ending fuel crisis are pushing the population to the brink, leaving them unable to afford food or transportation while repeated attacks on health facilities and lack of resources to rehabilitate them are leading to preventable death, long-term disability and a host of untreated conditions. Moreover, since the conflict started, around a third of schools in Yemen have suffered damage or military occupation to an extent they became unfit for use, leaving hundreds of thousands of children cut off from access to education.
The cumulative impact of the uninterrupted violence on the mental health and psychosocial well-being of Yemenis can also not be understated. Every Yemeni is or has been exposed to extreme and repeated stressors, causing anguish and deep trauma. However, with health services and medical capacities decimated, the acute and widespread mental health and psychosocial needs of the Yemeni people remain virtually unaddressed. As long as the conflict goes on, people will continue to be exposed to harm and experience trauma, of which the depth and extent will only increase as hostilities continue.
“The consequences of sustained psychological distress are wide-ranging: not only does it affect family relationships and physical health, it also fuels tensions related to the conflict. When people suffer repeated losses, displacement and violence, the grievances they carry may create an environment that is less conducive for support of peaceful resolutions to the conflict”. Patricia Dumazert, HI Yemen Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Specialist.
It is clear that Yemen is faced with challenges as never before. Even if all hostilities were ceased at this very moment, the road to recovery is set to be long and arduous. Yemeni people will have to endure the dire consequences of the war for decades to come. The soil of Yemen will remain excessively contaminated with landmines and explosive ordinances to kill people for long after the war has ended, while the reconstruction needed to reverse total institutional collapse will take many years and billions of dollars. Truly, the consequences of this war are so extremely vast and immense that should it continue through 2030, Yemen’s human development situation will be set back by at least 40 years.
However, to continue this conflict and let people suffer through this man-made disaster is a choice.
HI therefore calls on all parties to the conflict and their allies to immediately cease all hostilities and to invest in constructive and collaborative engagements towards peace with the UN Special Envoy. All parties and their allies must also uphold their obligations under international law and stop the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Further human suffering must be prevented at all costs, by exercising restraint in the conduct of hostilities, protecting civilians from harm and safeguarding civilian infrastructure.
Because Yemen cannot wait any longer.