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HRC36 – Yemen: MRG, alarmed by the situation of minorities in the conflict, call for an International Commission of Inquiry

28 September 2017

UN Human Rights Council

36th session

General Debate (item 10)

Thank you Mister President,

The conflict in Yemen has now been going on for more than 900 days and has resulted in the killing and displacement of thousands of civilians. Among them, as stressed in the High Commissioner’s report, ethnic and religious minorities have been disproportionately affected.

The situation of Yemen’s minorities reminds us of this tragic reality: even war discriminates. Though the impact of the war and the humanitarian crisis have affected all of Yemen’s civilian population, the country’s religious and ethnic minorities have found themselves especially vulnerable due to their long history of exclusion.

Many people belonging to minority communities have been displaced outside cities, like Ta’az and Sa’ada, or to very isolated areas where health clinics, schools and public services are almost non-existent. MRG has documented how displaced Muhamasheen have been forced to settle in disused or damaged buildings and on the open ground. Lacking basic services, they urgently need access to food, medicines, drinking water, shelter and schools for their children.

Of all, the greatest effects have been experienced by minority women and children.  In remote areas where many displaced minorities have settled, newly born babies do not get registered or receive the necessary medical vaccines. Additionally, displaced minority children suffer from malnutrition, poor medical care and the absence of schools. Minority children and young men, especially belonging to the Muhamasheen community, are vulnerable to forced recruitment by armed groups.

Minority women are more vulnerable to harassment and sexual violence, especially by police, according to local activists. Most minority women suffer from restrictions on their freedom of movement, and they lack basic medical care, especially maternal healthcare and contraceptives. Most minority displaced women live in remote areas without drinking water, which they must walk long distances to collect.

Mr. President, given the devastating impact of the conflict on Yemen’s minority communities and on the civilian population in general, MRG along with our minority partners in Yemen urge the Human Rights Council to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

I thank you.