Emergency Relief Coordinator condemns December attacks on INGOs in Al Dhale’e that led to the temporary suspension of humanitarian activities
In a statement released on 23 December, the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Mr. Mark Lowcock, condemned attacks on the premises of three humanitarian organizations in Al Dhale’e City which resulted in the temporary suspension of aid operations in the governorate. In the early hours of 21 and 22 December, unknown individuals attacked the premises of three international humanitarian organizations in Al Dhale’e, using rocket-propelled grenades, wounding one person and damaging property. “These events represent an alarming escalation in the risks faced by humanitarian workers in Yemen”, said the ERC. Mr. Lowcock. The ERC called for a thorough investigation of the incidents and expressed grave concern at the ongoing media campaigns in parts of Yemen that spread rumours and incitement against aid operations.
The attacks followed a series of incidents the previous week in Al Dhale’e District, including an attack on a UN agency implementing partner in Sanah and a raid on a partner’s food distribution centre in Al Hasha.
An escalation of similar security incidents occurred in the wake of the attacks, including armed men threatening a UN road maintenance contractor, demanding they cease their work because of the association with the UN. There were reports that some community and religious leaders were mobilizing the community against INGOs. Fourteen organizations were forced to suspend aid programmes in Al Dhale’e, affecting over 217,000 residents, and for three weeks, there was no international staff presence in Al Dhale’e. Minimal life-saving operations continued through local partners while NGOs distributed RRM kits to recently displaced families in Al Dhale’e City. Aid agencies engaged with the authorities to ensure their safe return, which led to a staggered resumption of aid programmes from mid-January. A shooting at a food distribution point in Al Dhale’e on 19 January that injured a displaced man, impeded the return with some agencies again suspending operations. All UN missions were postponed until the end of January.
In other developments, on 29 December, a missile attack at a graduation parade for the Facilities Protection Security Battalion in Al Dhale’e City killed 7 people, including 3 adult civilians and 2 children, and injured 42 others, including 17 adult civilians and 15 children. On 31 December in Aden City, unidentified armed individuals on a motorcycle detonated a sound bomb in front of the gate of an INGO guesthouse under construction in Khormaksar District which reportedly injured a civilian and created a state of panic in the area.