top of page
  • Leena M.G Osman

The Most Destructive Conflict Since the End of the Cold War : Yemen

The conflict in Yemen enters its 7th year as generations of innocent civilians fall victim to the brutal consequences of unlawful practices of both state and non-state armed groups, with no true signs of abating any time soon.

With the constant human rights violations, many of which qualify as war crimes, Yemen has lost 2 decades of human development. The UNDP commissioned study on the human impact of war anticipates a 40 year set back by 2030.


President Ali Abdullah Saleh was pushed out of power after an uprising emerged in 2011. Accusations of corruption and weak governance ended his 33 years of rule. Other factors included the deep unresolved conflict with the Houthis, an armed group based in North with followers who follow Zaidism, a branch of the Shi’a Islam. This was quickly followed by the inauguration of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2012 as former president Ali Abdullah Saleh formally ceded his power.

Soon after a new federal map was brought to light with the intention of partitioning Yemen without regard to socio-economic or regional interests or grievances. Hence, minimal support was received. Nevertheless, the Houthis took advantage of the growing dissatisfaction and solidified their control over many neighboring areas in the northern parts of Yemen. By 2014, the Houthis extended their territorial control encompassing army and security positions in the capital of Sana’a.

By late 2014, it became glaring evident that the war festered around the claim to the official government of Yemen between the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi Government and the Houthi armed movement, as well as the respective associated allies.

Following the Houthi takeover in 2015 and the flee of the President and many members of government, a coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia military operations and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the logistical support of the United States, intervened at the request of president Hadi, with the intention of restoring power to the internationally recognized government.

This involved the active training, funding and arming of different armed groups, the direct and indirect supporting of proliferation of unaccountable militias.

Although the bombing campaign was declared over by April of 2015 with the aim of restoring peace through political and diplomatic efforts, airstrikes still persisted against Houthi associates.


Since the outbreak of this multi-sided civil war, all parties have contributed to gross violations of human rights by engaging in arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, as well as the harassment of journalists and human rights activists.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) asserts that more than 100,000 reported fatalities in Yemen since 2015, including over 12,000 civilians killed in direct attacks. Moreover, the Saudi-led coalition has caused the highest number of civilian fatalities as a result of direct targeting, a number of over 8000 since 2015. Similarly, the Houthis and allies are responsible for 2,000 fatalities.

The turbulent and multi-layered conflict has contributed to the cruel human suffering of the vulnerable population and the deterioration of regional stability. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict has subsequently contributed to various ailments, including the deprivation of water, food and electricity.


Yemen is facing the world’s worst food security crisis with 20.1 million people in dire need of food assistance at the beginning of 2020, according to the Human Rights Watch. Similarly, the fight of dominance in the southern areas of Yemen left thousands of Yemenis internally displaced and exposed to atrocious humanitarian conditions, with the condition of living and risk of health further exacerbated by Covid -19.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported in October 2019 that 50 % of children are experiencing irreversible stunted growth. The prolonged conflict has had monumentally devastating impacts on the development, psychological and physical health of civilians considering the abuse of power, a weak rule of law and a fragmented distribution of power.

However, the most alarming aspect could potentially be the restriction of the delivery of much needed humanitarian aid. UN and other humanitarian agencies have been blocked access from those in need and international and local organizations on the ground have been hindered by the various obstacles imposed by the many actors in the Yemen conflict.

・・・Consolidated and immediate action is required to resolve the complex conflict and mitigate Yemen's humanitarian crisis, with consideration of the State’s complex multifaceted domestic dynamics and reality on the ground.


bottom of page