October 28, 2021 – In September, military operations escalated in parts of Yemen, with the situation in Marib governorate worsening each day. Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) is deeply concerned for the safety of civilians living in areas increasingly affected by the conflict and the implications continued fighting has for the humanitarian situation in the country. We urge all parties to the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law and protect civilians and critical infrastructure during operations, investigate allegations of harm, and ensure unrestricted humanitarian access to affected communities.

Prior to the overthrow of the Hadi-led government in Sanaa in 2014, which led to fighting across the country and mass displacement, Marib governorate was home to almost 400,000 people. Now it hosts nearly three million, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) – many who have been displaced more than once over the course of the conflict. Since February, the conflict has started to intensify, and the recent uptick in violence has forced even more people into displacement. The International Office of Migration (IOM) recorded the displacement of close to 10,000 people last month, the highest rates recorded in Marib governorate in a single month this year. Additionally, over 150 civilians were killed in Marib alone between January and August 2021.

Al-Abdiya and Al-Juba districts in Marib governorate have been particularly affected by increased fighting, marked by indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including medical facilities; ground and air attacks; landmines; enforced disappearances; and arbitrary detention of civilians. Civilians are facing restrictions of movement and obstructions to receiving essential services as a result of the conflict. Members of CIVIC-supported Community Protection Groups (CPGs), who meet to advocate on community protection concerns, have reported that over 200 families from Al-Juba are unable to protect themselves from danger or flee their homes in search of safety as of late October.

In early October, the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed the need for all parties to the conflict in Yemen to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including those related to humanitarian access and the protection of civilians, and condemned violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law.

“The current and potential impact of military operations on civilians living in Marib is very troubling. The increase in hostilities we have seen over the past few months further compounds the devastation faced by civilians from over six years of fighting and exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” said CIVIC Executive Director Federico Borello. “Immediate action must be taken by all parties to the conflict to ensure civilians protection is prioritized and civilian harm is mitigated during operations.”

As the situation in Marib is approaching a critical point and civilians remain at risk, CIVIC urges all parties to the conflict to take the necessary steps to ensure civilians and critical infrastructure are protected, allegations of harm investigated, and unrestricted humanitarian access granted to affected communities.