New York, NY
The United Nations Human Rights Council will vote on two key resolutions pertaining to Yemen on September 28. The following statement is attributable to Susannah Sirkin, Physicians for Human Rights’ (PHR’s) director of international policy and partnerships:
“The Human Rights Council’s vote is a key opportunity for the international community to affirm its commitment to creating an atmosphere of peace and security for the people of Yemen, and to protect those who are being subjected to grave human rights abuses on a daily basis.
“A little more than a month ago, the Group of Regional and International Eminent Experts on Yemen (GEE) presented its findings in a detailed report, mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report, which is yet to be completed and which is critical to the documentation of crimes committed by all sides, strongly pointed to the government of Yemen, and the Saudi-UAE coalition, perpetrating egregious crimes under international law over a four-year period. According to the GEE, these indiscriminate acts of violence against Yemen’s civilian population are continuing unabated.
“Air strikes targeting residential areas, medical facilities, markets, and even weddings and funerals, occur on a regular basis, with complete disregard for civilian casualties. PHR has worked to draw international attention to the ongoing mass atrocities, including the blocking of humanitarian aid, attacks on health workers and health facilities, and the use of starvation as a weapon of war, in Yemen – all clear violations of medical neutrality. PHR has also condemned the weaponization of diseases such as cholera, polio, and measles as part of a cruel, illegal, and intentional strategy by the warring parties. More than 6,500 people were reported killed over a three-and-a-half-year period, but we know that the actual casualty numbers are significantly higher, and that people are dying at a rate of more than 160 each month.
“With August having been the most violent month of 2018, with nearly 500 people killed in a nine-day period, the GEE’s work is more valuable now than ever. Its mandate, which includes monitoring, investigating and reporting human rights violations, as well as identifying those responsible for these grave crimes, not only strengthens the United Nations Human Rights Council’s ability to hold states accountable for war crimes, but it sends a strong message that those who commit atrocities against the Yemeni people, or anywhere, for that matter, will be held accountable.
“We call on all countries in the Council to vote to extend the GEE’s mandate, without weakening its scope, and without changing its members, for a further period of one year, in order to ensure full and transparent access to the situation on the ground in Yemen. It is also crucial that the UN Secretary-General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights provide ongoing support for the GEE to effectively carry out its mandate. “Only with the promotion and protection of human rights can we create a path towards lasting peace and stability in Yemen.”
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.