Statement by Adama Dieng, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of
Genocide, and Jennifer Welsh, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the
Responsibility to Protect, on the situation in Yemen
(New York, - 9 April 2015) The Special Advisers of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of
Genocide, Adama Dieng, and on the Responsibility to Protect, Jennifer Welsh, expressed
concern at the dramatic and deteriorating situation in Yemen.
The Special Advisers expressed alarm at the impact on the civilian population of the military
operations initiated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 26 March 2015 at the request of the
Government of Yemen and supported by other Member States. They also expressed alarm at the
widespread, lethal attacks by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Houthis, as
well as other armed actors associated with them.
They expressed shock that protected groups, such as health workers, and civilian objects, such as
medical and education facilities and private homes, have been hit by indiscriminate attacks in the
course of the fighting. They reminded all parties that these sites are protected under international
law and attacks against them could constitute war crimes.
The Special Advisors deplored the number of casualties since the escalation of violence, which
have reportedly amounted so far to more than 300 civilians, including a large number of
children. They also denounced the civilian casualties that resulted from airstrikes on the Al-
Marzaq camp in Hajjah province (Western Yemen) on 30 March 2015, a camp that was
primarily housing internally displaced persons.
They echoed the call made by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to all parties
involved to respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law and
ensure the protection of civilians and of United Nations, other humanitarian and associated
Special Advisers Dieng and Welsh noted with concern that sectarian tensions are increasing in
Yemen, as demonstrated by media reports of calls by religious leaders in the Aden Governorate
on 8 April for followers to engage in a holy war, and by the horrific 20 March bomb attacks at
two mosques in the capital, Sana'a, and in Saada (north-western Yemen). The dire humanitarian
situation and scarcity of basic supplies, including food and water, risks further increasing
tensions. They warned, too, of the risk that sectarian tensions could spill over into the region,
exacerbating an already tense environment.
The two Special Advisers noted that since the uprisings of 2011, the people of Yemen have made
determined efforts to resolve their differences through political dialogue. However, this resolve
is being seriously tested with the deepening sectarian divide and by the reported use of identity
issues by parties to the conflict for political gain.
They stated: "The region is facing a critical moment. We call on the parties involved in the crisis,
including decision-makers, political parties and groups, military, religious, tribal and community
leaders, to take all possible measures to prevent sectarian reprisals amid the ongoing violence, to
engage constructively in peace initiatives, and to promote respect for diversity."