Britain, the US and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen by arming and providing support to a Saudi-led coalition that starves civilians as a war tactic, a United Nations report has said. The UN report will very likely be used as further evidence for those demanding that the British government end arms sales to Saudi for use in Yemen.
The first step in a long-delayed plan for a withdrawal of rebel forces from Yemen’s embattled Hodeida port has gone to plan, according to U.N. officials. The withdrawal process is crucial in allowing desperately needed humanitarian aid through the strategic port of Hodeida, which serves about 70% of Yemen’s population. Hodeida city has been under the control of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who overran Yemen’s internationally-recognized government in early 2015. The city was the target of a major Saudi and Emirati assault in mid-2018, an escalation of which the cease-fire agreement aimed to prevent.
British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday that a peace process in Yemen’s main port city “could be dead within weeks” without more committed effort from both sides. The agreement to implement a troop withdrawal in Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions facing famine, by Jan. 7 was intended to clear the way for wider negotiations to end the four-year war but progress has been slow. “We are now in last chance saloon for the Stockholm peace process,” Hunt said in a statement during a visit to Yemen.
Conjoined twin boys born in Yemen are in urgent need of treatment abroad, but are unable to leave because the war there has closed the capital city’s airport. Doctors treating two-week-old Abd al-Khaleq and Abd al-Rahim said Yemen’s war-ravaged health system cannot keep them alive, and the parents are poor. The tiny boys, who are being helped to breathe in an incubator, have separate heads. The doctors are appealing to the United Nations and international humanitarian organizations to arrange for the boys’ transfer abroad.
The West needs to stop supplying weapons to fighters in the Yemen conflict, Amnesty International urged, after reports that arms are ending up with extremists. “The proliferation of unaccountable” militias in Yemen, which is backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is “worsening the humanitarian crisis and posing a growing threat to the civilian population,” Amnesty research Patrick Wilcken said. The Saudi-led coalition, including the UAE, has been at war in Yemen with Iran-aligned Houthi rebels since 2015.
The ceasefire between the Houthi rebels and pro-government forces in Yemen was broken just minutes after going into effect. Pro-government officials reported ongoing clashes. The truce went into effect at midnight on Tuesday in the port city of Hudaydah. The civil war which has lasted four years has pushed millions to the point of starvation.
As planned peace talks in Sweden approach, a UN plane will evacuate 50 Houthi militants from the rebel-controlled capital of Yemen, Sana’a, on Monday. The move is a ‘confidence-building measure’ according to a Saudi-led military coalition. The wounded Houthis will be taken to Muscat for treatment. The evacuation is a step forward in negotiation efforts.
An estimated 85,000 children under age 5 may have died of hunger and disease since the outbreak of Yemen’s civil war in 2015, an international aid group said Wednesday. Save the Children based its figures on mortality rates for untreated cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition, SAM, in young children. The U.N. says more than 1.3 million children have suffered from SAM since a Saudi-led coalition went to war with Yemen’s Houthi rebels in March 2015.
Britain believes there is a chance for the civil war in Yemen to end and is pushing for a new United Nations resolution. The Yemeni port city of Hodeidah was attacked with almost 100 airstrikes over the weekend. UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt said the UK will use ‘all its influence’ to push for an end.
Save the Children charity warned that another one million children are at risk of famine in Yemen, reaching a total of 5.2 million. Food insecurity is due to rising prices of food and falling value of the Yemeni currency. Further threat comes from fighting surrounding the key port of Hudaydah, an entry point for aid.