Yemen: An indiscriminate airport attack means many families are in mourning

Yemen: An indiscriminate airport attack means many families are in mourning

A statement from Dominik Stillhart, director of ICRC operations, after a visit to Yemen following the deaths late last month of three ICRC staff in an explosion at Aden’s airport:
News release 14 January 2021 Yemen

My visit to Yemen is one filled with heartbreak, following the deaths of three of our colleagues. It's heartbreaking that the people of Yemen have suffered so much violence in the last five years, that ongoing fighting causes daily losses and despair at a time when people are dealing with a global pandemic on top of the consequences of protracted conflict.

The attack at Aden airport on December 30 was indiscriminate and a stark reminder of what civilians caught up in conflict and violence in Yemen endure. Latest official figures say that 28 people died and 113 were wounded, among them travelers, airport employees, families seeing people off or welcoming them home, who saw their world change in an instant.

Three of our colleagues were also killed in the attack -- Saidi Kayiranga, Hamid Al-Qadami and Ahmed Wazir -- three dedicated International Committee of the Red Cross staff helping people in need. As difficult as the visits were, I am glad that I got to meet with grieving family members, to extend my support and share heartfelt condolences on behalf of the entire ICRC. Our injured colleagues are also in our thoughts, as well as all those who witnessed and survived the attack and are dealing with the psychological and physical after-effects.

This is not the first such attack in Yemen where civilians have borne the brunt and the losses. We have said it many times before and we will keep repeating it: all those involved in the violence in Yemen must spare and safeguard civilians and ensure that humanitarian workers can perform their duties.

ICRC response to US designation in Yemen

We are increasingly alarmed about the situation across Yemen and committed to doing all we can to help alleviate suffering and deliver assistance. On top of the ongoing and deadly violence in different parts of the country, COVID-19 has affected many communities, seasonal infectious diseases claim thousands of lives each year; and high inflation has seen the price of food, medicine, and other basic goods soar.

With that in mind, the ICRC is concerned by the potential negative impact of the U.S designation of Ansarullah as a foreign terrorist organisation on the humanitarian situation in Yemen, as well as on the provision of impartial humanitarian assistance to those in need. In particular, the ICRC is concerned about the possible "chilling effect" the designation may have on humanitarian action, leading to it being impeded or delayed. Increased operational risks and possible de-risking from the banking and private sectors in response to the designation ultimately may constrain the humanitarian response in Yemen.

States that decide to impose such measures must consider the humanitarian consequences and take steps, such as humanitarian carve-outs, to mitigate any negative impact on affected populations and on impartial humanitarian action.

We are less than two weeks into 2021. For Yemen, this new year started as the old one ended – with violence, fear and loss. People there need support more than ever and the ICRC, as an independent, impartial, and neutral humanitarian actor, will do all we can to assist.

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