Yemen: Before we talk about peace, we must talk about war

16 November 2018
Yemen: Before we talk about peace, we must talk about war
Ali, 13 years old, stands in the middle of destroyed buildings in his neighbourhood in Sana'a.

A statement from Fabrizio Carboni, the regional director for the Near and Middle East for the ICRC, on the situation in Yemen.

Geneva (ICRC) - A political solution for Yemen is urgently needed. Meanwhile, as long as the warring parties ignore international humanitarian law – the laws of war that protect civilians – the tremendous suffering across the country will continue and extreme hunger will turn more desperate, until potentially reaching famine.

Stopping the downwards spiral in Yemen requires a combination of urgent measures: a political process back on track, a progressive de-escalation of the conflict, free circulation of imports and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid. But it also requires a strong respect of the rules of war.

The ICRC welcomes any peace efforts given how much this war has hurt Yemenis, and stands ready to provide any necessary support. But before we talk about peace we must talk about war, and specifically how this war is being conducted.

In Hodeida, the conflict’s latest epicenter, recent fighting endangered Al Thawra hospital, the city’s largest health facility and one of its few remaining medical centres. Like all medical facilities, Al Thawra must be protected from attacks. Our teams recently visited displaced families living in a Hodeida school who eat only watery flour or a small portion of rice. The families’ children are worryingly weakened and thin from a lack of food.

Whilst the warring sides work on reaching a sustainable resolution, the Yemeni people cannot wait. Action must be taken now, and this is what we want to see:

  • The parties must spare civilians
  • The parties must spare civilian infrastructure like hospitals and schools
  • The parties must keep the necessary distance from civilian infrastructure to avoid making these a military target 
  • The parties must allow civilians to flee areas of combat, and allow free movement of goods like food and medicine
  • The parties must continue to facilitate humanitarian action inside the country

Present life in Yemen is death, destruction and hunger. The future should bring relief to the agony.  Meanwhile, an immediate change is urgent. We call on parties to respect the rules of war.


For further information, please contact:

Mirella Hodeib, ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 7391 64666
Sara Alzawqri, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 3138 353