Tag Archives: OHCHR

Yemen: civilian casualties top 8,100 as airstrikes and shelling continue, UN reports

Boys hold a large piece of twisted metal near homes that were destroyed in an air strike, in Okash Village, near Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Mohammed Hamoud

Boys hold a large piece of twisted metal near homes that were destroyed in an air strike, in Okash Village, near Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Mohammed Hamoud

5 January 2016

Civilians are suffering a “terrible toll” in the fighting tearing Yemen apart, with casualties now topping 8,100, nearly 2,800 of them killed, amid Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, shelling by Houthi groups and other clashes, the United Nations reported today.

“Airstrikes have continued into the New Year, with around 11 strikes taking place in the capital Sana’a on Sunday and Monday (3 and 4 January), and further airstrikes are reported to have been carried out in the early hours of this morning,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville told the regular news briefing in Geneva.

He put civilian casualties recorded between 26 March and 31 December, 2015 at 8,119 people, 2,795 of them killed and 5,324 wounded, noting that at least 62 civilians were reported killed by airstrikes attributed to coalition forces in December, more than twice the number of November.

“We have also received alarming information on the alleged use of cluster bombs by coalition forces in Hajjah Governorate,” he added, reporting that an OHCHR team found remnants of 29 cluster submunitions near banana plantations in Al-Odair village in Haradh District.

“According to witnesses, several other villages in the same area have also been affected. Our team also documented the use of cluster submunitions in several other districts, including Hairan and Bakel Al-Meer, and interviewed two patients who had reportedly been wounded, in separate incidents, after stepping on unexploded submunitions.”

During December, at least 11 civilians were allegedly killed by shelling attributed to members of the Popular Committees affiliated with the Houthis, a significant decrease compared to 32 reportedly killed by them in November, Mr. Colville said.

The UN has been trying to broker an end to the fighting but these efforts have been stymied by violations of the ceasefire required to get the process under way. In December UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed adjourned peace talks until mid-January to allow for bi-lateral in-country and regional consultations to achieve a ceasefire.

Mr. Colville voiced particular concern at the situation in the central city of Taiz, scene of virtually uninterrupted violent clashes for more than eight months, where strict control of all entry points by Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees has limited access to essential items, including food, and made conditions extremely difficult for the civilian population.

The health situation in Taiz governorate has also continued to deteriorate, with Al-Rawdha Hospital, one of the largest still operating, forced to turn patients away.

The prison system has been heavily impacted, he added, with over 40 prisoners reportedly killed and 10 others injured by airstrikes or indiscriminate shelling. More than 4,300 prisoners have reportedly escaped from facilities across the country, including those in Sa’ada, Al Dhale’e and Aden, after they were hit by airstrikes or breached in armed clashes.

Prisoners are increasingly vulnerable. Food, electricity, water and fuel shortages have been reported in many detention facilities as well as the spread of contagious diseases, such as scabies. Many detention facilities are also severely overcrowded.

As most courts are no longer functioning, there have been delays in the review of detainees’ cases — and, in some cases, in their release – and many detainees have been unable to receive visits from their lawyers and relatives.

UN: more than 21 million people in Yemen need basic humanitarian aid

WHO has provided 35 tonnes of medical supplies to health facilities in Hadramaut, Shabwah and Al Mahara in Yemen, which are sufficient to support over 665,000 individuals across the three governorates. Photo: WHO/Sadeq Al-Wesabi

WHO has provided 35 tonnes of medical supplies to health facilities in Hadramaut, Shabwah and Al Mahara in Yemen, which are sufficient to support over 665,000 individuals across the three governorates. Photo: WHO/Sadeq Al-Wesabi

24 November 2015

Some 21.2 million people in Yemen – or 82 per cent of the population – require some kind of assistance to meet their basic needs, according to a recently-published overview of the country’s humanitarian needs for the next year carried out by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In its 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview, OCHA also notes that the severity of needs among vulnerable people has intensified across sectors amidst the conflict’s ongoing conflict. The overview finds that six months of violence have taken a “severe toll” on civilians’ lives and basic rights. Since 26 March, health facilities have reported more than 32,200 casualties – many of them civilians.

In the same period, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has verified 8,875 reports of human rights violations – an average of 43 violations every day. Verified incidents of child death or injury from March to September are reportedly almost five times higher than 2014 totals.

Since uprisings in early 2011, and the subsequent outbreak of violence in 2014, the United Nations has been engaging with the Yemeni parties, regional countries, Security Council members and other Member States with the aim of preparing the ground for a cessation of hostilities and a resumption of a political transition process towards a peaceful, stable and democratic country.

OCHA’s overview finds that millions of people in Yemen need assistance to ensure their basic survival. An estimated 14.4 million are food insecure, including 7.6 million who are severely food insecure, while another 19.3 million lack adequate access to clean water or sanitation, and nearly 320,000 children are severely acutely malnourished.

The overview also focuses on how the collapse of basic services in Yemen continues to accelerate. UN partners estimate that 14.1 million people lack sufficient access to healthcare, three million children and pregnant or lactating women require malnutrition treatment or preventive services, and 1.8 million children have been out of school since mid-March.

OCHA further notes that solid waste removal has come to a halt in several areas, with service availability rapidly contracting due to direct impact of conflict and insufficient resources to pay salaries or maintain services.

Turning to the effects of displacement, the overview says that UN relief partners estimate that 2.3 million people are currently displaced within Yemen – about half of whom are in Aden, Taiz, Hajjah and Al Dhale’e governorates – and an additional 121,000 have fled the country. OCHA estimates that about 2.7 million people now require support to secure shelter or essential household supplies, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable host families.

Finally, OCHA says IDPs are currently sheltering in 260 schools, preventing access to education for 13,000 children.

UN officials condemn ‘virtual silence’ about escalating violence in Yemen

Faj Attan neighbourhood in Sana’a, Yemen, is regularly hit by airstrikes. Most of the population has left. Photo: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

Faj Attan neighbourhood in Sana’a, Yemen, is regularly hit by airstrikes. Most of the population has left. Photo: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

15 September 2015

Two senior United Nations officials today condemned “the virtual silence” about the increasing impact on civilians of the escalating conflict in Yemen, and urged leaders from all sides to refrain from manipulating religious identities for political purposes.

“Unless there is a serious commitment of the parties to find a political solution to the conflict that will end the violence and ensure humanitarian access to all populations, without discrimination, the situation is likely to degenerate further,” warned Adama Dieng, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and Jennifer Welsh, the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect.

The joint statement by the two officials comes a day after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the UN Human Rights Council that his office has found that over 2,000 civilians have been killed and more than 4,000 wounded in Yemen.

He added that credible allegations of human rights violations by all parties to the conflict should be thoroughly examined by an independent and comprehensive body.

The Special Advisers “expressed alarm about allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law throughout the country, committed by both sides of the conflict.”

They “expressed concern at the ever increasing impact on civilians of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, and the virtual silence of the international community about the threat to populations.”

The statement added that “recent developments are likely to lead to escalation of the violence in central Yemen, particularly if Sana’a becomes the scene of confrontations between the Saudi-led military coalition and the Houthi forces, and civilians will bear the brunt of this violence.”

The officials also denounced the use of sectarian language by the Yemeni branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to justify violations of international law and to fuel divide.

They urged leaders from all sides to refrain from manipulating religious identities for political purposes.

While reminding national authorities of their primary responsibility to protect the Yemeni population, the officials also recalled that the international community has a responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and “must intensify its efforts to fulfil this collective responsibility in Yemen.”

Meanwhile, UN humanitarian officials reported that damage to civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, mosques and schools continues unabated in Yemen, while the depletion of medical stocks and the lack of fuel to run hospital generators further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.

Yemen relies on imports for up to 70 per cent of its fuel requirements and 100 per cent of its needs for medicine.

Alarm at spike in civilian deaths in Yemen

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is “untenable”, according to OHCHR, which has called for all parties to the conflict to allow aid into the country. Photo: UN Photo/WFP

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is “untenable”, according to OHCHR, which has called for all parties to the conflict to allow aid into the country. Photo: UN Photo/WFP

1 September 2015 – United Nations Radio


Amid ongoing fighting in Yemen, the UN raised the alarm on Tuesday over the steep rise in the number of civilian casualties and the deteriorating humanitarian situation there.

In the southern city of Taiz, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said that 95 civilians have been killed in the past two weeks alone.

The UN office says that 53 of these people reportedly died as a result of airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition forces which are targeting Houthi rebels.

Here’s Daniel Johnson’s report from Geneva.

Following a spike in civilian deaths in Yemen in recent weeks, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said that one city has seen nearly 100 civilians killed in just two weeks.

That city is Taiz, in the south of the country.

There, more than half of the victims died from aerial bombardments directed by Saudi-led coalition forces at Houthi rebels, OHCHR said.

The remaining civilians died from sniper fire and shelling attacks, reportedly by fighters linked to Houthi rebels.

All the while the humanitarian situation is as dire as ever in Yemen.

And it’s been made worse by the blockage of supply routes into Taiz city by fighters linked to the Houthis, according to the UN human rights office.

Since the escalation of the armed conflict on 26 March, OHCHR has documented more than 2,100 civilian deaths, though the actual numbers are believed to be much higher.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Yemen: UN warns of ‘untenable’ humanitarian situation and steep increase in civilian causalities

This building in Yemen was destroyed by airstrikes. Photo: OCHA/P. Kropf

This building in Yemen was destroyed by airstrikes. Photo: OCHA/P. Kropf

1 September 2015

The UN human rights office said today it is alarmed by the steep increase in the number of civilian casualties in Yemen’s Taiz governorate in recent weeks, as well as by the “untenable” humanitarian situation which is being made worse by the blockage of supply routes into Taiz city by local “popular committees” affiliated with the Houthis.

According to information gathered by the Office of the UN high Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), an estimated 95 civilians were killed and 129 injured in Taiz, located near the southern tip of the country, during the past two weeks. Fifty-three of these civilian deaths occurred on 20 August, reportedly as a result of a series of airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition forces that hit 20 homes near Salah Palace in Taiz.

Local reports indicated that active fighters in the Houthi popular committees – community-level armed groups – were believed to be based in the Salah Palace at the time. The other 42 civilians were killed as a result of sniper and shelling attacks, reportedly by members of the Houthi-affiliated popular committees.

The UN human rights office on Tuesday also reiterated its concern regarding the near collapse of the healthcare system in Taiz, where all six public hospitals are no longer operational due to fighting in the vicinity. In addition, the Houthi-affiliated popular committees have taken up military positions nearby and hospital staff and others are fearful of the associated risks.

This has reportedly caused smaller private hospitals with limited capacity to be overwhelmed with the vast number of severely injured patients, as well as by the outbreak of dengue fever in the area. According to the UN World Health Organization, over 420 cases of dengue fever have been suspected since 25 August.

Meanwhile, OHCHR is highlighting another serious incident which took place on 18 August in Amran governorate. An estimated 21 civilians, including four children and two women, were killed and 28 others injured, reportedly after an airstrike by coalition forces hit the office of the Teachers Syndicate. The teachers had gathered to prepare for the final examinations of primary and secondary students.

The disastrous impact on the humanitarian situation of attacks by coalition forces on Hodeida port, which is a key entry point for humanitarian supplies and commercial imports into Yemen, has also been described by OHCHR as very concerning. It is urging all parties to allow and facilitate unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief.

Since the conflict in Yemen escalated in late March, OHCHR has documented some 6,631 civilian casualties, including 2,112 civilian deaths, and 4,519 wounded.

However, the UN says the actual numbers are believed to be much higher.

UN envoy on Yemen presses on towards political solution with meetings in Cairo

A refugee from Yemen hides from the scorching sun in Obock, northern Djibouti. Obock has become a safe haven for hundreds of people fleeing increasingly violent conflict in Yemen. Photo: UNHCR/H. McNeish

A refugee from Yemen hides from the scorching sun in Obock, northern Djibouti. Obock has become a safe haven for hundreds of people fleeing increasingly violent conflict in Yemen. Photo: UNHCR/H. McNeish

4 August 2015

The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen met with officials in Cairo as part of the ongoing efforts to reach a political solution to a conflict that has led to just over 1,900 civilian deaths since fighting erupted in March and caused almost 100,000 people to flee the country.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, with whom he exchanged views on the situation in Yemen and the peace process, UN spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi told reporters in Geneva.

The Secretary-General said that “the League, when the time came, would consider seriously the question of monitors, in case of a ceasefire,” said Mr. Fawzi.

While in the Egyptian capital, the Special Envoy also met with the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and key leaders of the General People’s Congress.

“The Special Envoy still feels, as he did in Geneva, that there is momentum for a political solution to be reached and he is pushing all parties in that direction,” said Mr. Fawzi.

Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed will soon travel to Oman for meetings, followed by a visit to Saudi Arabia, before traveling to New York to brief the Security Council.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today that almost 100,000 people have fled Yemen since conflict erupted there in late March but the agency’s regional response to this outflow is just one fifth funded.

“With funding also low for operations inside Yemen, UNHCR is concerned that delivery of assistance there, as well as to refugees fleeing the country, will be at risk without additional funding soon,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards said at a press briefing in Geneva.

UNHCR requires $105.6 million for its emergency response inside Yemen. It has only received about 23 per cent of that.

Some 1.2 million internally displaced people and approximately 250,000 refugees continue to need assistance in extremely challenging conditions with severely restricted access, UNHCR noted.

The conflict continues to cause death, injuries and damage to homes and infrastructure. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported today that the civilian death toll in Yemen has risen to at least 1,916, with another 4,186 civilians wounded since the escalation of the armed conflict in March.

Also, over the past few weeks, there have been two “particularly devastating” attacks in residential areas, according to spokesperson Cécile Pouilly. On 19 July, 95 civilians, including 29 children, were killed and 198 injured in Aden in the Al Ghaleel Residential Area, which is home to members of the Al-Muhamasheen community, a marginalized group in Yemen. The attacks were reportedly conducted by the Houthi Popular Committees using mortar shelling. Fourteen civilian homes also incurred extensive structural damage.

Then on 24 July, at least 73 civilians, including 11 children, were killed and 93 injured, when two residential compounds in Taiz were hit. The compounds housed the families of workers of Al Mokha Steam Power Plant. According to eyewitness, the residential compounds were hit by nine missiles. OHCHR is working on verifying reports of the source of the attacks.

“We are also deeply concerned about attacks against civilian infrastructure, including places of worship, hospitals and schools,” Ms. Pouilly told reporters.

“We urge all parties, again, to ensure that they, at all times, distinguish between civilian and military targets, comply with the principle of proportionality when conducting military operations and take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event to minimise, the impact of violence on civilians.”

Yemen Envoy: there’s still “momentum” for a ceasefire

UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is continuing consultations for a peaceful end to the conflict. Photo: UNMEER/Simon Ruf

UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is continuing consultations for a peaceful end to the conflict. Photo: UNMEER/Simon Ruf

4 August 2015 – United Nations Radio


The negotiator tasked with bringing an end to the Yemen conflict believes there’s “momentum” for a ceasefire between the warring parties, the UN said Tuesday.

The development comes as UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed continues his push for a peaceful end to the conflict in the Arab peninsula state.

Meanwhile, the UN human rights officeannounced that civilian casualties from the conflict have now reached more than 1,900 since violence escalated in March.

Daniel Johnson has more.

As fighting continues in Yemen, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed believes there’s still a chance of a ceasefire.

That’s according to UN spokesperson in Geneva Ahmad Fawzi, who spoke to the Special Envoy in Cairo on Tuesday as he continued consultations.

“The Special Envoy still feels as he did in Geneva that there is momentum for a political solution to be reached and he is pushing all the parties in that direction.”

The development follows discussions held by Special Envoy Cheikh Ahmed with the Arab League and the General People’s Congress, founded by former Yemen president Ali Abdallah Saleh.

According to the Special Envoy, the question of putting monitors into Yemen is also something that Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby would “seriously consider” if a ceasefire was agreed.

Meanwhile, the UN human rights office OHCHR said that 1,916 civilians have died in the conflict since late March, and another 4,186 have been injured.

Citing human rights violations from all sides in the conflict, the UN human rights office highlighted a devastating attack on a residential area in Aden last month that killed 95 people, including 29 children.


New York, 28 July 2015
Mr. President,
When I last reported on the situation in Yemen in a closed session of the Security Council on my second day in post on 2nd June, I described Yemen as a looming humanitarian catastrophe. By every test, that catastrophe has now loomed, and loomed large. This is an intense disappointment given the extent of our efforts here at the UN and with partners to find ways of alleviating the suffering and the descent into catastrophe.
And the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate rapidly. With 80 per cent of the population of about 26 million people in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance and more than 1,895 civilians killed by fighting since March, the impact of this conflict on civilians is indeed catastrophic. Airstrikes hit a residential complex in Mokha on 24 July, killing at least 73 civilians according to OHCHR. Bodies continue to be pulled out of the rubble, and the final death toll is not known.
A humanitarian pause announced over the weekend has not been respected by any party to the conflict with airstrikes and ground fighting reported in eight governorates. Since the nominal beginning of the unilateral pause announced by Saudi Arabia, set to begin at 23:59 local time last Sunday, coalition airstrikes have been confirmed in Haijah, Lahj, Sa’ada, and most recently in Sana’a. In Hajjah, an airstrike hit a health centre, killing one person and injuring others. Ground fighting has also been confirmed in Al Dhale’e, Lahj, Marib and Taizz. Rockets were launched from Houthi/pro-Saleh-held areas of Lahj into neighbouring Aden, prompting return fire by Popular Committees.
Mr. President,
Parties to the conflict continue to fail to meet their responsibilities under International Humanitarian and International Human Rights Laws. We continue to witness the death and injury of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, including homes, hospitals, schools, roads and bridges. As of 24 July, health facilities report over 4,000 conflict-related deaths and over 19,800 injuries since 26 March. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that 1,895 civilians have been killed, as I said, and 4,182 injured.
Since March, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen has increased by 33 per cent from an already staggering 16 million people to more than 21 million in July. The number of those facing food insecurity has increased from 10.6 to 13 million, an increase of 21 per cent. Some aid agencies are now using the term starvation to describe the situation of those most food insecure. Conditions caused by the fighting have contributed to the spread of preventable diseases such as acute diarrhoea, dengue fever and polio. More than 15.2 million people lack access to basic healthcare, and more than 20 million lack access to safe water.
Commercial imports – which accounted for 90 per cent of Yemen’s food and fuel before the conflict – have decreased dramatically. A light, UN-led inspections mechanism enabling the flow of commercial imports to increase has long been proposed and is still urgently needed. Negotiations continue.
The Humanitarian Coordinator visited Aden this week, where he witnessed first-hand the scale of the destruction caused. He described the situation as “harrowing”.
Mr. President,
It is against this backdrop that the international community continues to call for a substantial humanitarian pause that is respected by all parties – that is an unconditional freeze in the fighting to allow humanitarian actors to reach more people in need whoever, wherever they are in Yemen and however their need arises, with critically-needed assistance.
Mr. President,
Humanitarian partners, with the expectation that the planned pause would take hold, had developed an operational plan to reach an additional 3 million people in the initial 5-day period with vital assistance, including three million people with water and sanitation, 600,000 people with life-saving healthcare, 3.1 million people with food and 2,200 children under five years old with treatment for acute malnutrition. That plan is live and ready to go now – if only we could get a pause to stick.
With ongoing violence making deliveries dangerous, and with key roads and bridges destroyed, humanitarian access is limited. However, partners continue, amazingly and bravely, to deliver assistance to the people in need whenever and wherever possible, often at great risk to themselves. Yesterday, humanitarian agencies including WFP dispatched food for 62,000 people to Al Hudaydah, Abyan, Amran, Al Dhale’e, Lahj and Taizz. In Sa’adah city and the Rahban area, 50,000 people continued to receive water after UNICEF and its partners delivered fuel for the pumping station. In Al Jawf, four mobile clinics provide nutritional health services. In Aden, humanitarian partners have reopened health facilities that serve 360,000 people and began a vaccination campaign for 120,000 children. Brilliant as this is, it is a mere fraction of what is needed, and what could and can be delivered, if the violence and fighting paused, preferably ceased.
Recognising the need to scale up operational presence, the UN is establishing five hubs across the country, and international UN staff began working in Al Hudaydah today, the first time that UN international staff have been based outside the capital since the start of the conflict. We can go where we have access – there are no partial judgments involved.
Mr. President,
Efforts to respond to the overwhelming levels of humanitarian need are woefully under-resourced. The humanitarian appeal for Yemen stands at $1.6 billion, of which only 15 per cent – $241 million – has been received. Much has already been spent by UN agencies and their partners advancing their own funds in expectations of the original Saudi pledge of $274 million being forthcoming. Additional resources are urgently needed – now.
Mr. President,
I wish to inform Council members that I will travel to Yemen in the coming weeks to see for myself the needs of the Yemeni people and the challenges faced in meeting these. This conflict has brought appalling damage on an already suffering people. We must redouble our efforts to secure a pause in the fighting which is adhered to by all parties, to reach all those in need with basic assistance and urgently to give time and space to seek to reach a more durable ceasefire and a political solution.
Thank you.

Yemen: UN reports some 4,000 people killed since March in escalating conflict, nearly half of them civilians

Boys hold shrapnel from exploded artillery shells while standing on a street damaged by blasts in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Mohamed Hamoud

Boys hold shrapnel from exploded artillery shells while standing on a street damaged by blasts in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Mohamed Hamoud

28 July 2015

The death toll in war-torn Yemen is almost 4,000 since the conflict had escalated mid-March, today said a representative for the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

“From 19 March and until 19 July, there were 3,984 deaths and 19,347 injuries, making a total of 23,331 deaths and injuries. These figures were based on what was reported from health facilities,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said during a press briefing in Geneva.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), he said, bases its figures on what WHO compiles on the basis of information from health facilities.

According to Ravina Shamdasani, who spoke on behalf of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the total number of civilians killed since March is 1,895 and 4,182 others have been injured.

Only between 16 and 27 July, she added, at least 202 civilians, including 36 women, had been killed, and 353 others injured. The most recent update from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) brings the number of children killed to 365, while 484 others have been injured.

Press briefing notes on Iraq, Libya and Yemen

Spokespersons for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 28 July 2015

(1) Iraq

We have received reports that suggest a violent clampdown on people who are attempting to flee ISIL-controlled areas in Iraq, particularly through the Hamrin mountain chain in northeast Iraq.

An increasing number of people have been attempting to escape, taking a very difficult journey from areas like Shirqat and Hawija through the Hamrin mountains and onto Tikrit, Al-Alam and Kirkuk. At least four families, including children and elderly people, reportedly died earlier this month after attempting the journey without a guide and with few supplies. According to sources, the journey takes eight to 12 hours in very hot weather through uninhabited areas without signage or paved roads. ISIL gunmen have also begun to set ambushes for people fleeing and ISIL snipers have reportedly attacked and killed those caught. In one incident, three taxi drivers were reportedly executed between 10 and 12 July in Shirqat, purportedly for assisting residents in making the passage through Hamrin. There are also reports that many other families were abducted by ISIL en route to Tikrit and Al-Alam.

ISIL continued to viciously target those perceived to be opposed to its ideology and rule, with despicable violence. On 20 July, for example, ISIL reportedly publicly killed an Imam in western Mosul following a decision by a self-appointed so-called court. The Imam was abducted on 17 July, allegedly for having criticised ISIL. On 13 July, four Imams from Qayyara sub-district were allegedly executed for performing taraweehprayers, which are not authorised by ISIL. On 10 July, ISIL reportedly killed nine people in central Mosul by running a bulldozer over them. A radio station broadcast the reasons for their killing, including that they allegedly provided information and collaborating with the Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga.

There have also been an increasing number of civilian casualties across the country due to car bombs and other uses of IEDs. The particularly devastating attack in Khan Bani Saad sub-district of Diyala Governorate has been widely condemned, but there have also been daily attacks in Baghdad, killing and wounding civilians. On 21 July, an attack using a vehicle laden with explosives in front of a fuel station in Zafaraniyah in eastern Baghdad (Shi’a majority area) killed seven civilians and wounded three others. Gun attacks are also occurring with frequency.
Any intentional direct attack against civilians is considered a serious violation of international humanitarian law. All parties must ensure that civilians are protected, that they have unhindered access to medical facilities and humanitarian assistance, and that they are able to leave areas affected by violence – safely and with dignity.

(2) Libya

We are deeply disturbed at the verdicts and sentences handed down today in Tripoli in the trial of former Gaddhafi officials, in particular the imposition of the death penalty against a number of them. We had closely monitored the detention and trial and found that international fair trial standards had failed to be met. Among the key shortcomings are the failure to establish individual criminal responsibility in relation to specific crimes. There were also serious issues relating to access to lawyers, claims of ill-treatment, and trials conducted in absentia.

It is crucial to ensure accountability for serious human rights violations. However this needs to be done with scrupulous adherence to international fair trial standards and with full respect for the rights of the defendants. Failing this, injustice is only compounded.

The UN opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. In this case, where fair trial standards have clearly not been met, we strongly deplore the imposition of the death penalty.

We urge Libyan authorities to ensure that legal reforms are introduced as a matter of urgency, to ensure that human rights are fully respected in the administration of justice and that verdicts of the Court of Assize can be appealed and are not only subject to cassation.

(3) Yemen

Between 16 and 27 July, at least 202 civilians were killed, and 353 others injured. This brings the total numbers of civilians killed and injured, since 26 March, to 1,895 and 4,182, respectively. During the same period, at least 20 civilian public installations were affected (partial or complete destruction), which brings to 207 the total number of civilian installations partially or completely destroyed as a result of the armed conflict.


For more information, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 /
rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org).

– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16271&LangID=E#sthash.RZJ16qTQ.dpuf