As the war in Yemen rages on, a new report says there is “strong evidence” that the Saudi-led coalition has aimed to destroy food production and distribution in areas of the country controlled by Houthi rebels.
The report, titled ‘Strategies of the Coalition in the Yemen War: Aerial Bombardment and Food War’, is a compilation of data from various sources on the impact of the coalition’s bombing campaign on the production and distribution of food in rural Yemen, and on fishing along the Red Sea coast.
“If one places the damage to the resources of food producers (farmers, herders, and fishers) alongside the targeting of food processing, storage and transport in urban areas and the wider economic war, there is strong evidence that Coalition strategy has aimed to destroy food production and distribution in the areas under the control of Sanaa,” the report, published earlier this week by the World Peace Foundation, says.
It goes on to explain that the deliberate destruction of “family farming and artisanal fishing” is a war crime.
The report includes data collected by several organizations within Yemen, including the Yemen Data Project, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, and the Ministry of Fish Wealth.
“Together, the data detail the overall levels of targeting civilian, military and unknown sites… the systematic targeting of agricultural areas including the character of the site, and the frequency and timeline of targeting.”
It goes on to document the killing of fishermen along Yemen’s Red Sea coast, and the destruction of boats and infrastructure required to support small-scale fishing which “otherwise could provide life-saving food for a civilian population on the brink of famine.”
The report cites data from the General Authority of Fishing in the Red Sea when it states that 146 fishermen have died as a result of coalition airstrikes from the beginning of the war until December 2017.
Yemen has seen major civilian loss and suffering since the country’s civil war broke out in 2015, with many on the brink of starvation. The country has also endured a major cholera outbreak and a severe lack of medical supplies which has led to many cancer patients having to forego treatment.
Over 16,000 civilians are believed to have perished since the start of the civil war. Meanwhile, the UN and rights groups have repeatedly accused the Saudi-led coalition of not sparing the lives of civilians during its aerial bombardment of Yemen. Up to 50 people were killed when a wedding was bombed in April, while an attack on a bus saw dozens, including many children, die in August.
The coalition has denied allegations that it is targeting civilians. It did, however, express regret over the bus attack. Such an admission is rare for the coalition, particularly after it previously referred to the bus attack as being “legitimate.”
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the conflict in Yemen in 2015, in an effort to restore the internationally recognized government after it was driven out by Houthi rebels.
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