Quarter of civilian casualties in Yemen are minors. Is there any chance for peace?

Quarter of civilian casualties in Yemen are minors. Is there any chance for peace?

“All wars that are waged in the world are wars against children, and Yemen is, sadly, a classic example of that” – said Jeremy Stoner, a regional director for the Middle East of the Save the Children non-profit organisation.

One quarter of civilian casualties of the Yemen war are children – says the raport of the organization.

Pandemic & famine make the situation even worse

The military conflict started six year ago and it is just getting deadlier. Only between 2018 and 2020, the number of confirmed child casualties was 2341 but the specialists believed that the actual number had been much higher. 

The crisis will be deepened by the imminent famine and lowering efficiency of humanitarian aid. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, countries such as the UK had substantially cut their humanitarian aid budgets. 

To facilitate the work of humanitarian aid organisations, some of the restrictions at the Sanaa airport and Hodeidah port will be lifted.

Yemen divided into areas of control by: Houthi (red), Saudi coalition and ex-president Hadi (blue), Al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups (green)
Source: https://yemen.liveuamap.com/

Saudi peace plan

On March 23rd in Riyadh, from the mouth of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, another proposal for a peace plan was heard, in order to end a 6-year long war in Yemen. The main postulates in Saudi proposal were:

  • ceasefire between Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels supported by Iran;
  • the ceasefire would be run under the supervision of the United Nations;
  • partial reopening of strategic air and sea links;
  • start of political negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations.

What reactions has this proposal faced?

Naturally, the Yemeni government welcomed the Saudi credit. The Houthis, through their chief negotiator Muhammad Abdulsalam, criticized the plan – their latest proposal does not differ from the latest, ineffective attempts. The Yemeni negotiator stressed that one of Houthi’s main demands was once again ignored. Namely – a partial, and not complete lifting of the air and sea blockade, including the unblocking of the airport in Sanaa and the port in Hudaydah. A Saudi proposal is to unblock strategic airports and ports only for selected destinations.

The Houthis noted that their 14 ships would still be held on the enemy’s side. Despite another disapproval (a few days earlier, the Houthis rejected the American proposal, which was unfavorable from Houthi’s point of view), Abdulsalam assured that Houthis will continue peace talks with the Saudis, the United States and Oman as a mediator.

Why is it important?

It is also worth mentioning that in recent months, international diplomatic efforts focused on and significantly intensified designing solutions for the Yemeni peace process . This was due to pressure from the Joe Biden administration, which appointed a special envoy of the American side, Tim Lenderking, to support the efforts of the United Nations.

The prepared peace plan has two basic components: military and political. In accordance with UN resolutions, the parties will be obliged, inter alia, to the exchange the prisoners of war as well as to the admission of humanitarian organizations to help civilians and to hold a ceasefire.

The Saudi proposal, while intensifying work at the international level, of which the Saudis remain part, is a clear message. Riyadh wants the war to end – albeit on its own terms, of course. The growing determination of the states involved in shaping the peace plan for Yemen appears as a long-awaited – especially by the civil victims of war – opportunity.

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title pic: Ajmati, 6 years old, gets water from this water point in Musaik, a neighbourhood of Sana’a. 2015 / source: flickr, World Humanitarian Summit, CC BY 2.0

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