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11 Feb, 2022 11:53

Death toll spikes in war-torn country after UN exit – reports

There have been 39 times as many civilian casualties from airstrikes since the UN ended its monitoring mission in Yemen
Death toll spikes in war-torn country after UN exit – reports

As many as 1,535 civilians have been either injured or killed in the Yemen conflict over four months since the end of the UN human rights monitoring mission’s mandate in the war-torn country, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said on Thursday.

The number is almost double that for the last four months when the mission was still active, the humanitarian NGO focusing on refugees and internally displaced people added, citing data provided by another NGO – the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project.

The period since October 2021, when the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided to end the Yemeni mission also saw civilian casualties caused by airstrikes increasing by 39 times, the statement said.

“The removal of this crucial human rights investigative body took us back to unchecked, horrific violations,” said Erin Hutchinson, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Yemen. She added that the world would probably “never know” who is responsible for the deaths of Yemeni children and families since “there is no longer any independent, international and impartial monitoring of civilian deaths” in the war-torn nation. 

The NRC also called on the UN to “urgently reinstate the monitoring body to ensure that parties to the conflict stop committing grave breaches of international humanitarian law with impunity.” 

The Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen was established by the UNHRC in 2017 and tasked with “comprehensive examination” of all alleged human rights abuses and violations of international law in Yemen.

The UNHRC refused to renew the group’s mandate in October following a roll-call vote that saw 18 council members supporting the renewal and 21 members opposing it. It was reportedly the first time the council rejected a proposed resolution.

The move was condemned by the group’s experts, who called it a “major setback” for all victims of the armed conflict in Yemen and a sign of the “lack of political will to address the situation.”

The Civilian Impact Monitoring Project has reported that over 5,000 people, including more than 1,000 children, were killed by “armed violence” since December 1, 2017. The UN Development Program’s November 2021 report estimates the conflict claimed a total of 377,000 lives by the end of 2021 – 60% of which were caused by lack of access to food, water, and healthcare.

Yemen has seen continuous conflict since 2014. In 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched a military campaign in the country to support the national government fighting against the Shia Houthi militants supposedly supported by Iran. The US was also involved in some operations against the Houthis, but ceased them in 2021. Washington still supports the Saudi-led campaign there.

The UN has described the conflict as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”