As of 18 June 2018, the Western-backed Arab coalition has continued bombardments on the Houthi-held Yemeni main port, Hodeidah. This upsurge in fighting comes at the heel of the UN Security Council’s presidential statement in March 2018 which called for the full and sustained opening of the port, and has impeded humanitarian delivery for the 600,000 people in the area. Yet, in spite of recognising the vast humanitarian impact of prolonged fighting in Yemen, most Council members remain cautious about taking positions on the situation.
While the Council remains inactive, Yemeni women peace activists are working to develop humanitarian plans and support existing action.
Women’s Solidarity Network Yemen has proposed a five-point response plan that urges the Council to increase engagement with women and civil societies and ensure that any action to address the humanitarian situation are gender-sensitive:
- Secure safe zones within Hodeidah, especially within areas with high population and areas with available social services;
- Abide and respect the rules of International Humanitarian Law and Geneva Conventions to protect civilians, including from being used as human shields, and protect civilian properties, including hospitals and schools, in addition to ensuring the commitment towards the implementation of UNSC resolutions, including 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security, as well as UNSC 2417 (2018) on banning starvation as a weapon of war;
- Facilitate the provision of relief supplies, including the establishment of camps for internally displaced populations, provision of mobile clinics, food and water; ensure the responsiveness of the humanitarian relief to the needs of women, children and people with chronic diseases such as kidney failure and diabetes;
- Opening humanitarian corridors facilitated by the United Nations or a neutral third party to secure humanitarian relief supplies and allow the safe exit of people, including those living in close proximity to the port and those seeking medical care. In addition to increasing the preparedness of other governorates to welcome internally displaced groups, ensure that the roads are secured from mines or have clear warning information;
- Support the national civil society to establish emergency plans and humanitarian operation rooms teams, emergency plans, hotlines to help civilians and ensure that these workers are not targeted and are protected.
While this plan is necessary to overcome the humanitarian crisis in short-term, the Network acknowledges that any humanitarian response will not be an effective way in solving the crisis as such. As reiterated in S/PRST/2018/5, “the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of an inclusive political solution”.
Read Women’s Solidarity Network’s Five Points Initiative to Protect Civilians in Hodeidah here>>