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New CIVIC Report: Stability in Yemen Rests on Civilian Protection

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    Craig Zelizer
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    New CIVIC Report: Stability in Yemen Rests on Civilian Protection

    WASHINGTON—Millions of Yemen’s civilians are suffering from two years of airstrikes, snipers, landmines, forced displacement, famine, and economic devastation brought on by the fighting between the combined forces of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis, and the subsequent intervention by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia to reinstate the Yemeni government, warns Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) in its report published today, “We Lived Days in Hell”: Civilian Perspectives of the Conflict in Yemen.

    In one of the first comprehensively researched reports of its kind, which relied on interviews with 166 civilians as well as 55 leaders of armed groups and government, military and security officials, CIVIC has documented civilian suffering on a massive scale and calls on all parties to the conflict to agree to an immediate ceasefire, to take practical steps to minimize civilian harm and assist civilians, and to address the divisions that led to eruption of violence.

    “Yemenis face almost unimaginable challenges to their immediate safety and an uncertain future,” said Sahr Muhammedally Senior Program Manager for MENA at the Center for Civilians in Conflict. “Parties to the conflict have a responsibility to protect civilians and address the needs of affected communities to begin stabilizing the country.”

    “We Lived in Days in Hell” was researched in Aden, Hadramout, Mareb, Sana’a, and Taiz governorates, and draws on first-person stories to reveal civilian perceptions of the northern Houthis, the government of President Abdrabuh Mansoor Hadi in the South, and the Saudi-led coalition which is backing the Hadi government.

    In addition to the immediate dangers of fighting, civilians have been arbitrarily detained by Yemeni Elite Forces trained by members of the Saudi-led coalition in Hadramout governorate, and journalists and political opponents have been subject to ill treatment and forced disappearances at the hands of the Houthi-Saleh forces.

    The report reveals civilians’ needs and expectations of protection and assistance to rebuild their lives, concerns about military and security forces oversight, and civilian views on how to address the grievances that led to violence by involving local communities in the peace process.

    Despite widespread civilian suffering parties to the conflict could take practical steps to minimize civilian harm, work towards ending drivers of the conflict, and begin to plan for stabilization of the country. Some of the recommendations CIVIC makes in the report include:

    • Adherence to international humanitarian law during the conduct of all military operations.
    • Respect ceasefire agreements initiated by the United Nations and agree on a joint ceasefire monitoring mechanism overseen by the UN.
    • Establish a peace process that addresses local grievances across Yemen by including local political leaders, civil society, women, and youth groups.
    • Scenario based training on civilian protection and international humanitarian and human rights law of Yemeni security and military forces.

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    Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)’s mission is to improve protection for civilians caught in conflicts around the world. We call on and advise international organizations, governments, militaries, and armed non-state actors to adopt and implement policies to prevent civilian harm. When civilians are harmed we advocate for the provision of amends and post-harm assistance. We bring the voices of civilians themselves to those making decisions affecting their lives.

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