08/29/2017, 19.32
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Vicar of Arabia: Yemen 'tragic' situation calls for action by the international community

More than 50 NGOs call on the UN Human Rights Council to set up an "independent" investigation into the crimes committed by both sides to the war. It is the world’s largest "humanitarian crisis". For Bishop Hinder, people “are getting used to the tragedy," a situation compounded by "scarce information coming from inside.” There seems to be no way out.

Sana'a (AsiaNews) – The parties involved in the conflict in Yemen have failed “to heed critical voices coming from outside,” and continue to perpetrate atrocities and acts of violence; however, "there is no other way" on the part of the international community but to "exert pressure" because "the situation is tragic, gets worse every day and there is no way out on the horizon,” said Mgr Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (UAE, Oman and Yemen), as he spoke to AsiaNews about the situation in Yemen, an Arab nation torn by a bloody war exacerbated by famine and epidemics.

"People are getting used to the tragedy,” he explained, “and the lack of information from the inside does not help." In view of the situation, this morning Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other 56 non-governmental organisations, some already active in Yemen, have appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Council to act.

The 57 NGOs urge the council “to establish an independent, international inquiry” to investigate the abuses committed by warring parties in Yemen, a country torn by war for the past two and a half years and “home to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis".

Since January 2015, the Gulf nation has been the scene of a bloody internal conflict that opposes former President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, a Sunni backed by Riyadh, and Shia Houthi rebels, close to Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led Arab coalition launched air strikes against Houthi rebels, an offensive criticised by the United Nations for causing civilian casualties, including children.

According to UN estimates, more than 8,400 people have died, and 48,000 have been wounded.

In a country of 28 million people, 18.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance to survive. At least seven million are deemed close to famine, including 2.3 million malnourished children under the age of five.

In addition to the violence of war and famine, the civilian population also faces diseases, including the worst cholera epidemic in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, the total number of cases exceeds half a million.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, 57 NGOs call for the creation of an independent body, tasked with investigating “serious violations and abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

The NGOs accuse both sides. The Houthi rebels have shelled residential areas and recruited child soldiers. The Saudi-led coalition has killed scores of civilians in its air strikes, on more than one occasion, hit homes, schools, and hospitals. It is time to put an end to “the impunity that has been a central facet of Yemen’s war."

Speaking to AsiaNews, Mgr Hinder considers "this appeal important" regardless of the "end result" because "there is no other way to exert pressure on the actors involved in the conflict".

The prelate said that he is "worried" because "nobody has taken on responsibility of solving the war; no one wants to lose face even if they are aware that nobody can win" militarily. For this reason, "It's always more important to find a way to sit at the table and find a compromise."

"At the humanitarian level, the situation is disastrous. Some people, organisations, and institutions, including Catholic nuns, do admirable (and anonymous) work in favour of the population, but their interventions are not enough to solve the problems" in their complexity and scope.

Moreover, increasingly people “are getting used to the tragedy," compounded by "scarce information coming from inside. Everything is quarantined because no one wants the truth to emerge".

"Pressure must be put on governments,” the prelate noted, “a task for the UN and other international organisations." (DS)

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