As the escalation of the conflict in Yemen enters its third year, the top United Nations humanitarian official has called on the parties to the conflict to commit to political dialogue and resolve the situation or risk an unending manmade crisis.
Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, has been devastated by a war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.
Nearly 19 million Yemenis – over two-thirds of the population – need humanitarian assistance and, according to UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), seven million are facing starvation.
The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government, along with their supporters and allies.
Houthi forces controlling the capital Sana’a and allied with forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have clashed with forces loyal to the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, based in Aden.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have also carried out attacks, with AQAP controlling swathes of territory in the hinterlands, and along stretches of the coast.
On 21 March, after taking over Sana’a and the Yemeni government, the Houthi-led Supreme Revolutionary Committee declared a general mobilization to overthrow Hadi and further their control by driving into southern provinces.
The Houthi offensive, allied with military forces loyal to Saleh, began on the next day with fighting in Lahj governorate.
By 25 March, Lahij fell to the Houthis and they reached the outskirts of Aden, the seat of power for Hadi’s government; Hadi fled the country the same day.
Concurrently, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched military operations by using airstrikes to restore the former Yemeni government and the United States provided intelligence and logistical support for the campaign.
According to the UN, from March 2015 to March 2017, 16,200 people have been killed in Yemen, including 10,000 civilians.
The Saudi intervention, which has included widespread bombing of civilian areas, has been sharply condemned by the international community.