UN calls for protection of civilians as war casualties spike in Marib, Al Jawf and Sana’a governorates
The upsurge in hostilities that began in mid-January in Marib, Al Jawf and Sana’a governorates, continued into March, causing a spike in civilian casualties and damaging civilian infrastructure.
Multiple air strikes hit the Al Hayjah area in Al Maslub District, Al Jawf Governorate on 15 February killing 34 civilians including 26 children and 6 women and injuring 23 other civilians including 18 children and one woman.
Intense clashes broke out in Al Hazm City, Al Jawf Governorate, on 1 March causing massive displacement of civilians. Heavy fighting, including artillery shelling, was reportedly ongoing by late afternoon on 2 March, mainly in the outskirts of Al Hazm District. As of 2 March, the overall civilian casualty figures and number of displaced persons was unclear due to continued fighting in the affected.
Humanitarian partners continue to verify civilian casualty figures and the final figures are expected to be higher. Humanitarian partners deployed rapid response teams to the affected areas to provide first aid to the injured, many of whom were transferred for treatment to hospitals in Al Jawf and Sana’a.
The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Ms. Lise Grande, issued a statement on 15 February expressing condolences to the families of those killed and wishing a speedy recovery to those injured. “Under international humanitarian law parties which resort to force are obligated to protect civilians. Five years into this conflict and belligerents are still failing to uphold this responsibility. It’s shocking,” said Ms. Grande. In his briefing to the UN Security Council on 18 February, Mr. Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Response Coordinator, echoed the Humanitarian Coordinator’s sentiments.
In another statement on 20 February, the UNICEF Representative in Yemen, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, called on parties to the conflict, “to protect the lives of children by first and foremost putting an end to this brutal war.” Just a week before the air strikes in Al Maslub District, on 7 February, the Al Jafra Hospital and Al Saudi Field Hospital were badly damaged by fighting in the Majzer District of Marib Governorate, and a paramedic was also injured. Both facilities, which serve a population of about 15,000 people, were closed for security reasons at the time they were hit.
In a statement of 10 February, Ms. Grande condemned the attack on public facilities as a breach of international humanitarian law. “It is terrible that facilities upon which thousands of people depend to survive have been badly damaged.”
Fighting across the three governorates has caused further displacement, with an estimated 35,000 people having fled their homes between 19 January and 17 February and humanitarian partners continued to respond to needs. Most of those displaced persons are in Marib City and surrounding areas staying in overcrowded public buildings, in displacement sites and with the local community. Nearly 5,000 are scattered in Nihm and Bani Hushaysh Ddistrict in Sana’a Governorate.
The actual number of IDPs is likely to be higher as many families are staying with the host families and may not have been included in estimates. Access to Nihm was limited due to security concerns and in parts of Al Jawf, the response is hindered by lack of access, mobile telecommunications and partner capacity. For details of the humanitarian response see: https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-displacement- marib-sana-and-al-jawf-governorates- situation-report-no-2-18