It is now just over a month since the expiry of a UN-mediated truce in Yemen that started on 2 April, and we are gravely concerned for the safety and security of civilians. There has been reported loss of life and injuries resulting from sniper attacks and shelling, as well as an attack on a port facility that put the lives of civilians at serious risk.
The UN Human Rights Chief, Volker Türk, echoes the calls of the Secretary-General to extend the truce and to work toward a negotiated settlement to bring this protracted and terrible conflict to an end once and for all.
The outbreak of war over seven years ago plunged Yemen into an unparalleled humanitarian crisis. The truce agreement on 2 March, however, had brought relative calm - there was a sharp reduction in civilian casualties, the flow of fuel deliveries to Hudaydah increased, and Sanaa airport reopened after years of closure to commercial flights. Despite these positive developments, the reopening of roads to relieve the population of Ta’iz from years of what is effectively a siege did not materialize. Sadly, and worryingly, the truce expired on 2 October without the parties reaching an agreement to extend it.
In the last week of October, the UN Human Rights Office verified three incidents of shelling in government-controlled territory that claimed the lives of a boy and a man, and wounded four boys, including two who required leg amputations. Our Office also verified three incidents of sniper shootings attributed to Ansar Allah forces, injuring a boy, a woman and two men. On 21 October, Ansar Allah also conducted a drone attack on Al Dhabah oil terminal port in Hadramaut Governorate that exposed civilians to unwarranted, serious risk.
We remind all parties to the conflict that they must strictly adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law in the conduct of military operations and to do their utmost to absolutely limit the impact of those military operations on civilians. Parties to the conflict have strict obligations to facilitate the access of humanitarian relief organisations to populations in need and to facilitate civilian access to humanitarian and life-saving services. Furthermore, the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian objects is prohibited by international law and constitutes a war crime. Any such attacks must immediately cease, and the relevant authorities should investigate such incidents and hold those responsible to account.
It is clearly evident that the suffering of the Yemeni people will continue until this conflict is brought to an end. We therefore reiterate the calls of the UN Secretary-General who has said it is time for Government forces and their allies, together with Ansar Allah forces and their international backers, to “choose peace for good”.
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