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YEMEN: THE WORLD MUST BE PREPARED FOR RAPID COLLAPSE INTO MASS DISPLACEMENT CRISIS – UN EXPERT

8 April 2015

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, today urged the international community “to prepare for massive displacement and humanitarian crisis as conflict torn Yemen further descends into chaos and civilians flee the fighting.”

“The international community must prepare for a worst case scenario.  While efforts to reach a diplomatic solution are essential, the picture on the ground is extremely bleak and humanitarian responses must be stepped up as a matter of urgency,” Mr. Beyani stated, while praising the efforts of relief and humanitarian agencies to-date.

“Unless rapidly resolved, the crisis could lead to mass displacement in the wake of heavy and ongoing fighting and airstrikes,” the expert said.  More than 540 people have been killed in fighting in the last two weeks, out of which 311 are civilians, including 74 children.  At least 513 civilians have been injured, and more than 100,000 have been displaced according to United Nations humanitarian agencies.

Mr. Beyani strongly condemned the apparent targeting of internally displaced persons in the air bombing campaign.  On 30 March, an airstrike carried out against the Al-Mazraq camp, home to over 4000 internally displaced persons in Hajjah Governorate, northern Yemen, led to the deaths of 25, with 37 others injured, including 12 children.  The United Nations expert joined humanitarian actors in condemning the attack and described it as “a grave violation against some of the most vulnerable of the vulnerable civilians.”

In addition to the internally displaced persons camp, reports have indicated that numerous hospitals, schools and other civilian buildings have been damaged by airstrikes and power and water supplies cut.  Thousands of people are in an extremely vulnerable situation having been forced to flee their homes in areas including Aden, Sana’a, Sa’dah and Dhale where fighting has become intense and spread to residential neighbourhoods.

“Those responsible for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, must be held accountable,” the Special Rapporteur stressed.

The Special Rapporteur joined humanitarian actors, including the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Johannes van Der Klaauw, in calling on all parties to allow unhindered access to civilians by humanitarian actors.  He underscored that internally displaced persons must be protected against direct or indiscriminate attacks or acts of violence and attacks against their camps or settlements, in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles* on Internal Displacement.

“While the scale of internal displacement remains unclear at this stage, it is certain to grow significantly over the coming days and weeks, as clashes continue to take place,” Mr Beyani said.  A total of 14 Governorates out of 22 have been affected by airstrikes or armed conflict.

(*)
Check the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/Standards.aspx



Mr. Chaloka Beyani, Professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010.  Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.  Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.  Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not United Nations staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Yemen: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/YEIndex.aspx

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For use of the information media; not an official record

HR15/091E