Mere hours after it announced the end of its military campaign, a Saudi-led military coalition resumed aerial bombardment of military targets in Yemen. The renewed air campaign is exacerbating the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by the coalition’s previous month-long operation.
Since the Saudi-led military forces intervened in the Yemeni conflict, civilian casualties have dramatically increased. Moreover, constant bombings have destroyed hospitals and other civilian facilities, crippling Yemeni infrastructure and preventing health workers from providing medical care. Those health facilities that continue to function in Yemen are under increasing pressure. A Saudi enforced embargo on medical supplies prevents hospitals from receiving the materials necessary to operate. According to the OHCHR, airstrikes destroyed eight hospitals in Sana’a, Sa’ada, Al Dhale’e, and Aden, as well as the only medical facility in the Al Juhlan area of the Marib governate. A medical facility in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) was also bombed by the coalition airstrikes on 30 March, killing 29 civilians and wounding 41.
On 18 April, coalition forces destroyed a humanitarian aid warehouse belonging to Oxfam, killing at least one individual. As Saudi military officials had been made aware of the facility’s location prior to the strike, Human Rights Watch has called the attack “an apparent violation of the laws of war.” Only ten days later, after authorities announced the end to Operation Decisive Storm’s air strikes, Saudi jets bombed the airport runway in Saan’a as aid flights attempted to land. The military itself has reported that the air field is crippled, resulting in a de facto blockade on the capital city. Yemen is rapidly losing hospital capacity due to supply shortages; attacks on what infrastructure remains are only contributing to a faster collapse of the country’s dwindling healthcare system.
The indiscriminate bombing of hospitals and humanitarian aid facilities, as well as the blockade on medical supplies, violate internationally recognized laws of war. Coalition forces have a responsibility to avoid targeting these locations and to assist in the care of civilians affected by the war. To diminish the amount of preventable civilian casualties, the Saudi coalition must end all airstrikes on purely civilian targets and hospitals in Yemen and allow for the uninterrupted delivery of medical supplies and services.