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Update Alert: Yemen – Escalating sectarian violence causes severe humanitarian crisis

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Escalating violence in Yemen causes a humanitarian disaster.
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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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19 November 2009

Update Alert: Yemen – Escalating sectarian violence causes severe humanitarian crisis

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letter


1. Summary

IHRC is deeply concerned by the escalating violence in Yemen between the Houthi tribe and government forces. The conflict is becoming increasingly brutal, with hundreds of civilians killed and 35,000 people displaced in the past two weeks alone. Civilians are unable to leave the North of Yemen and are trapped by the fighting, whilst aid agencies are also prevented from providing urgently needed relief.

Disturbing reports allege that Saudi forces are using phosphorus bombs in the border region between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Phosphorus bombs are banned by international law when used in civilian populated areas.


2. Background

Since August of this year increasing violence has impacted the civilian population with hundreds of deaths and 150,000 displaced people. The displaced persons are trapped in the North of Yemen where there is currently a media blackout, therefore figures and reports of casualties and events cannot be independently verified.
Saudi officials claim to have captured hundreds of Houthi fighters while Houthi fighters also claim to have captured Saudi soldiers.

Pictures from a Turkish News website show horrific injuries on corpses allegedly caused by phosphorus bombs used by Saudi forces on the border areas but within Yemeni territory. Saudi officials deny the use of phosphorus bombs and claim that they were simply flares.  Pictures can be accessed via this link: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/gallery/view/23. The images are of children and civilians who have been gruesomely ravaged by weapons used by Yemeni and Saudi forces.

Sectarian violence in Yemen has a five year history. The Houthi tribe want independence from the government of Yemen due to discrimination and social inequality. The deteriorating economic situation in Yemen further causes civil unrest with predictions of Yemen becoming a failed state. The majority of the Yemeni population live under the poverty line causing significant frustration and unrest especially towards the government.

The dictatorship rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh has been in place for 31 years, making it one of the longest running leaderships. This dictatorship has embraced the US anti terror strategy and since then has had a deteriorating human rights record. According to a 2008 report published by Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/en/node/75606/section/1), arbitrary arrest and disappearances have been common from amongst the Houthi tribe. Hundreds of individuals have disappeared and there are over 1000 political prisoners.


3. Action required

Write to the following authorities requesting them to investigate and address the unfolding humanitarian disaster in the North of Yemen, as well as forming a political solution to the conflict.

a) Minister of foreign affairs in your country. UK campaigners will find the appropriate address, fax and email on the sample letter below.

b) League of Arab States. You can find the address on the sample letter below.

c) Yemeni Embassy in your local area. You can find your local Yemini embassy via this link: http://tinyurl.com/y95hqku


4. Sample letter
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A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

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(Email: milibandd@parliament.uk, Tel: 0191 456 8910)

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]


Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr. Miliband,

Re: Escalating violence in Yemen

I am deeply concerned about the violent conflict in Yemen where hundreds of civilians have lost their lives and  150,000 people have been made homeless and are living in camps. Many of the displaced people are still in danger because they aren’t able to leave the conflict area nor are aid agencies able to come in because of the violence.

Another disturbing element to this brutal conflict is the alleged use of phosphorus bombs by Saudi forces in civilian areas. Pictures from a Turkish news website show horrific injuries sustained from these inhumane weapons (http://www.ihrc.org.uk/gallery/view/23). This is a reminder of the Israeli aggression in Gaza when they also used phosphorus bombs on the civilian population.

As well as sectarian causes, this conflict also has economical roots. Yemen is predicted to become a failed state and the majority of its people are living under the poverty line. Therefore the general Yemeni society as a whole is not content and inevitably the minorities within the society will suffer significantly more from social inequality and discrimination during these difficult economic times.

I urge you to address these extremely important issues with your Yemeni counterpart to prevent further bloodshed and instability.

I look forward to your response on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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(Fax: 5779546 5761017 5740331 Tel: 5750511 5752966)

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Mr Amr Moussa
League of Arab States
Cairo, Egypt
11642

Dear Mr Moussa,

As Salam alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatu

Re: Escalating violence in Yemen

I am deeply concerned about the violent conflict in Yemen where hundreds of civilians have lost their lives and  150,000 people have been made homeless and are living in camps. Many of the displaced people are still in danger because they aren’t able to leave the conflict area nor are aid agencies able to come in because of the violence.

Another disturbing element to this brutal conflict is the alleged use of phosphorus bombs by Saudi forces in civilian areas. Pictures from a Turkish news website show horrific injuries sustained from these inhumane weapons (http://www.ihrc.org.uk/gallery/view/23). This is a reminder of the Israeli aggression in Gaza when they also used phosphorus bombs on the civilian population.

As well as sectarian causes, this conflict also has economical roots. Yemen is predicted to become a failed state and the majority of its people are living under the poverty line. Therefore the general Yemeni society as a whole is not content and inevitably the minorities within the society will suffer significantly more from social inequality and discrimination during these difficult economic times.

It is your responsibility to come together and negotiate a political solution for this bloody conflict where the majority of victims are innocent women, children and men. As the leaders of the Muslim world, you must put the interests and security of your people above personal and state interests; otherwise you will lose all support and credibility amongst the Muslim population and subsequently the international states.

I look forward to hearing back from you regarding these urgent matters.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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(Email: yemen.embassy@btconnect.com, Tel:0207 584 6607, Fax: 0207 589 3350)

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Mr Mohammed Taha Mustafa
57 Cromwell Road
London
SW7 2ED

Dear Mr. Mustafa,

As Salam alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatu

Re: Escalating violence in Yemen

I am deeply concerned about the violent conflict in Yemen where hundreds of civilians have lost their lives and  150,000 people have been made homeless and are living in camps. Many of the displaced people are still in danger because they aren’t able to leave the conflict area nor are aid agencies able to come in because of the violence.

Another disturbing element to this brutal conflict is the alleged use of phosphorus bombs by Saudi forces in civilian areas. Pictures from a Turkish news website show horrific injuries sustained from these inhumane weapons (http://www.ihrc.org.uk/gallery/view/23). This is a reminder of the Israeli aggression in Gaza when they also used phosphorus bombs on the civilian population.

As well as sectarian causes, this conflict also has economical roots. Yemen is predicted to become a failed state and the majority of its people are living under the poverty line. Therefore the general Yemeni society as a whole is not content and inevitably the minorities within the society will suffer significantly more from social inequality and discrimination during these difficult economic times.

I urge your government to cease all violence, provide aid to the injured and displaced as well as treat all prisoners humanely.

I look forward to your response on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below

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Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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