FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported

Photo Source Felton Davis | CC BY 2.0

The number of people killed by the violence in Yemen has for the first time risen above 3,000 dead in a single month, bringing the total number of fatalities to over 60,000 since the start of 2016. The figure is six times greater than the out-of-date figure of 10,000 dead often cited in the media and by politicians.

“We have recorded 3,068 people killed in November, bringing the total number of Yemenis who have died in the violence to 60,223 since January 2016,” says Andrea Carboni, a researcher on Yemen for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), formerly based at Sussex University, that studies conflicts and seeks to establish the real casualty level.

The figures do not include the Yemenis who have died through starvation or malnutrition – the country is on the brink of famine, according to the UN – or from illnesses caused by the war such as cholera.

This number of Yemenis dying in the war has been played down by the Saudi and UAE-led coalition, which has active military support from the US, UK and France, and has an interest in minimising the human cost of the conflict. The coalition has been trying since March 2015 to reinstate in power Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, whose government had been overthrown by the rebel Houthi movement in late 2014.

Mr Carboni says that ACLED’s latest figures, which were released on Tuesday, are drawn primarily from information in hundreds of online papers and news sites in Yemen. The possible political bias of these sources is taken into account and different reports are cross-referenced using the most conservative numbers, to arrive at the final number.

ACLED executive director Clionadh Raleigh says: “ACLED’s estimation of Yemen’s direct conflict deaths is far higher than official estimates – and [these are] still underestimated. Fatality numbers are only one approximation of the abject tragedy and terror forced upon Yemenis.”

The 60,223 figure for those killed in the fighting is lower than the total fatalities in Yemen since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began the Saudi intervention in March 2015 because ACLED only began its count at the beginning of 2016.

But the organisation is now also conducting a count of those killed in 2015, whom Mr Carboni says he estimated “to number between 15,000 and 20,000”. This would mean that the overall figure for fatalities as a result of violence over almost four years of war would rise to between 75,000 and 80,000.

The steep increase in the number killed this year is explained by the Saudi and UAE-led assault on the port of Hodeidah on the Red Sea coast which is the main conduit for relief supplies reaching the Yemeni population.

Houthi followers demonstrate to show rejection of an offer by the Saudi-led coalition to pay compensation for victims of an air strike in Saada, Yemen (Reuters)

This has led to a 68 per cent increase in the number killed in the first 11 months of this year, to 28,115, according to ACLED.

The number of those who have already died in Yemen may soon be far surpassed by the number likely to die because of hunger and disease. Some 20 million people are not getting enough to eat – 70 per cent of the population – and for the first time, 250,000 are facing “catastrophe”, according to the UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who has recently returned from Yemen.

He said that there has been “a significant, dramatic deterioration” of the humanitarian situation with those Yemenis facing starvation and death being concentrated in the four provinces where the fighting is at its most intense: Hodeidah, Saada, Taiz and Hajja.

A significant change in the conflict in Yemen is that the Saudi role in the war is coming under far greater scrutiny since the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi team in Istanbul on 2 October. International revulsion over his killing has led to greater focus and criticism of the Saudi-led war in Yemen and the humanitarian calamity it has produced.

At the UN-sponsored talks between the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government being held in Sweden, delegates are discussing the expansion of a shaky truce in Hodeidah. Under this proposal, all troops would withdraw from the city and later from the province, leaving the UN with oversight over an interim administration. The UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said he wanted “to take Hodeidah out of the war” so aid could be delivered.

Another sign of a limited de-escalation of the war came on Tuesday with the Saudi-backed government and the Houthis exchanging lists of some 15,000 prisoners to open the door for a swap agreement. But the talks, set to last until 13 December, have yet to make progress on important differences over a ceasefire at Hodeidah, reopening the Houthi-held airport at the capital Sanaa, and the shoring up of the central bank.

The prisoner swap would take place on 20 January via Sanaa airport in north Yemen and government-held Sayun airport in the south – a process overseen by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“We have exchanged more than 7,000 names from each side, including some 200 high-ranking officers,” said Ghaleb Mutlaq, a delegate for the Houthis.

The Trump administration is paying an increasingly high political price at home and abroad for its continued support for the Saudi crown prince and the war in Yemen, which are coming under strong criticism from both Republicans and Democrats in Washington.

Nevertheless, the administration says it will continue to back the Saudi-led coalition, claiming that this is necessary to combat Iranian influence and Islamic fundamentalists.

“We do believe that support for the coalition is necessary. It sends a wrong message if we discontinue our support,” said Timothy Lenderking, US deputy assistant secretary for Arabian Gulf Affairs at the weekend.

Even so, time appears to be running out for the Saudis and it is becoming clear that their long war may have destroyed Yemen but has failed in it purpose of defeating the Houthis.

 

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

July 02, 2020
Stan Cox
It’s Not Just Meat: All Farm and Food Workers Are in Peril
Marshall Auerback
We Won’t Have a Truly Global Economy Until People Start Taxing It That Way
John O'Kane
Progressive Pulses Among the Ruins of Riot
John Feffer
Time to Rethink the US-ROK Alliance
Binoy Kampmark
The Kafkaesque Imperium: Julian Assange and the Second Superseding Indictment
Kim C. Domenico
Disbelief, Belief and the Perils of Pandemic Re-opening
George Ochenski
Trump’s Contagion Road Show Heads West
Haydar Khan
The Great Wall of Wokeness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Biden Compared Indicted War Criminal to “George Washington”
Howard Lisnoff
Try to Get Published; Try to Be Heard
Rebecca Gordon
Fear of Falling: Can Making Black Lives Matter Rescue a Failing State?
Gary Leupp
Traditional Russophobia in an Unusual Election Year
John Kendall Hawkins
Biopic? Shirley, You Jest
Gary Macfarlane – Mike Garrity
Conservation Groups Sue Trump Administration to Halt Massive Logging in Steelhead Critical Habitat
Quincy Saul
Who Made the Plague?
July 01, 2020
Melvin Goodman
De-Militarizing the United States
Kenneth Surin
UK’s Labour Leader Sacks the Most Left-Wing Member of His Shadow Cabinet
Ruth Fowler
Then as Farce: the Commodification of Black Lives Matter
Kent Paterson
Crisis After Crisis on the Border
Rick Baum
The Pandemic and Wealth Inequality
Michael Welton
“Into the World of Bad Spirits”: Slavery and Plantation Culture
James W. Carden
The Return of the Anti-Antiwar Left
Dan Wakefield
Charles Webb Enters Heaven
Julian Vigo
A Call for Radical Humanism: the Left Needs to Return to Class Analyses of Power
Binoy Kampmark
A Trendy Rage: Boycotting Facebook and the Stop Hate for Profit Campaign
Michael D. Knox – Linda Pentz Gunter
As Monuments to War Generals Come Down, Let’s Replace Them with Monuments to Peace
Cesar Chelala
Attorney General William Barr’s Insomnia
Raphael Tsavkko Garcia
Is Bolsonaro Plotting a Self-Coup?
Mandy Smithberger
COVID-19 Means Good Times for the Pentagon
Joe Emersberger
On Pablo Celi, Ecuador’s super shady “Auditor General”
June 30, 2020
James Bovard
Bill Clinton’s Serbian War Atrocities Exposed in New Indictment
Bianca Sierra Wolff – Lisa Knox
ICE is Leaving Immigrants to Die in Detention, and Retaliating When They Speak Out
Don Fitz
Should NYC’s Wall Street Be Renamed “Eric Garner St.?”
Chris Hedges
My Student Comes Home
Richard C. Gross
Obamacare Vulnerable
John Feffer
The Hatchet Man’s Tale: Why Bolton Matters
Thomas Knapp
Afghanistan Bounties: Pot, Meet Kettle (and Turn Off the Stove!)
Charles Reitz
Anti-Racist Engagement in the Kansas Free State Struggle, 1854-64: Horace Greeley, German 48-ers, and the Civil War Journalism of Karl Marx, 1861-62
Howard Lisnoff
A Student Murdered in Cold Blood and a Kids’ Bike Ride Through Queens, New York
David Swanson
Hey Congress, Move the Money
Aparna Karthikeyan
Memories of Pox, Plague, and Pandemics in Tamil Nadu
John Kendall Hawkins
Democracy Chasers in a Badly Injured Nation
Binoy Kampmark
Wasteful, Secret and Vicious: the Absurd Prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery
Norman Solomon
Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee Could Defy “the Madness of Militarism” as Co-Chairs of the Democratic Convention’s Biggest Delegation
Jon Hochschartner
Imagining a Vegan Superman
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail