The human cost


Currently in Yemen, the human rights situation is dire. All parties to the conflict are responsible for committing war crimes and other violations, including the bombing and shelling of civilian areas.

Both sides have used imprecise weapons, such as artillery and mortar fire in heavily-populated civilian areas, launching attacks from or near homes, schools and hospitals. Since the conflict began, up to 4,000 civilians have lost their lives and more than 6,700 have been wounded. Over 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

“I don’t know why they bombed us. We are just simple farmers, we grow qat and vegetables. We are poor and spend our time working to make a living for our families. They killed us for no reason.”


Who is fighting?

On one side of the conflict are the Huthis, an armed group belonging to a branch of Shi’a Islam known as Zayidism. The Huthis are allied with supporters of Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. On the other side are anti-Huthi forces that are allied with the current President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Saudi Arabian-led coalition. See below for a timeline of events that lead to this conflict.

A timeline of the Yemen conflict

North and South Yemen unite to become the Republic of Yemen with Ali Abdullah Saleh as President. Saleh had served as President of North Yemen for 12 years until then. Tensions between North and South continue with sporadic fighting.
Vice-President Ali Salem al-Beidh quits Saleh’s government and returns to Aden in southern Yemen, demanding an end to economic marginalization of the south and political violence. Civil war erupts in May 1994, ends in a victory for Saleh within three months.
The assassination of Hussain Badr al-Din al-Huthi, founder of the Huthi movement, sparks the first of six wars between President Saleh’s government and Huthi rebels in the group’s northern stronghold of Sa’da.
During the sixth conflict, fighting spills into Saudi Arabia, which launches air strikes against the Huthi armed group in Sa’ada.
Hundreds are killed in crackdowns on mass protests calling for the fall of President Saleh, an end to corruption and repression and accountability for human rights violations. President Saleh is forced to resign and sign power-transfer deal.
Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi is elected as president. However, government forces continue to commit human rights violations, including unlawful killings against supporters of secession in the south. A conflict with the Huthi armed group in north is renewed.
Huthis call for mass protests after the government slashes fuel subsidies. The group advances south and seizes Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. By February 2015 the group dissolves parliament and announces plans for a transitional government.
Clashes between pro- and anti-Huthis escalate. After President Hadi appeals to the Gulf and Arab states to intervene, Saudi Arabian-led military coalition launches air strikes against the Huthi armed group. President Hadi flees to Saudi Arabia. Over the next six months the conflict spreads across Yemen.
Both Huthi and Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces put restrictions on the delivery of vital humanitarian aid to civilians in Yemen, exacerbating the country’s humanitarian crisis.
A US-made bomb was used in the airstrike on a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital, which killed 11 people and injured 19 others. Amnesty International has urged all states to ensure that no party to the conflict in Yemen is supplied with weapons or technology that could be used in the conflict.

Images from the forgotten war

What is Amnesty doing?

Amnesty International is sending researchers to the front line to uncover the human rights abuses that are occurring and calling for:

  • All States to halt transfers of arms for use in Yemen by the parties to the conflict to ensure they are not supplied directly or indirectly to any party to carry out attacks in the country.
  • The United Nations to set up an international commission of inquiry to investigate war crimes and human rights violations committed during the conflict, and ensure that all those suspected of committing them are brought to justice in fair trials.
  • The international community and governments – in particular, the USA and UK – to publicly condemn the violations and war crimes being committed in Yemen and to support the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to investigate these crimes.
  • All parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law – by taking all possible precautions to minimise harm to civilians, ending unlawful attacks, and granting full and unfettered access for humanitarian aid organisations.

This work is not possible without the generosity of our supporters. Please give generously to our Yemen Crisis Appeal so we can continue to fight for justice.