The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2020/487) issued on 03 June 2020.
Since the onset of the conflict five years ago, Yemen has faced the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 24.1 million people in need of assistance and 14.4 million in need of protection. In addition, 3.65 million people have been displaced, with 46,660 households newly displaced in 2019. The humanitarian crisis and widespread violence have exacerbated pre-existing gender-based discrimination, leading to increased risks of sexual violence and more frequent recourse to negative coping mechanisms. For instance, in camps for internally displaced persons, desperate parents have viewed child marriage as a way to protect girls from sexual harassment and abuse. Thirty-three child marriages were reported in Sana’a, Aden, Ibb and Dali‘ Governorates in 2019. Efforts are being made to strengthen referral pathways for service delivery in these areas, though humanitarian actors continue to face severe access restrictions, particularly in areas controlled by the Houthis (who are also known as Ansar Allah) linked with collapsed rule of law and the proliferation of armed militias.
In 2019, women and children faced a high risk of sexual violence, particularly in displacement settings and areas controlled by parties to the conflict. The Panel of Experts on Yemen established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014), documented that women political leaders and activists have been systematically targeted by the Houthis since 2017. For instance, the arrest, detention and ill-treatment of 11 women, 3 of whom were repeatedly raped in custody, was documented. Female Houthi guards, identified as zainabiyath, were also implicated in abetting the rape of women, including during interrogations (S/2020/70). The Security Council adopted resolution 2511 (2020), in which it, inter alia, condemned the use of conflict-related sexual violence in Houthi-controlled areas. The United Nations further documented six cases of conflict-related sexual violence against three women, one girl and two boys. In one of the incidents, the two boys were raped by unidentified armed men in Ta‘izz Governorate. Two other incidents took place in Aden, allegedly committed by Southern Transitional Council troops. Sudanese soldiers stationed in Hudaydah Governorate were responsible for one attempted rape in April and one verified case of rape in September. The Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts (Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen) documented 37 cases of sexual violence that occurred between 2016 and 2019, by members of the Security Belt Forces. Yemeni armed forces were also implicated (see A/HRC/42/17). Moreover, the Group of Eminent Experts reported on sexual violence in detention centres, including secret prisons, in Houthi-controlled areas. In one case, a boy detained in the Political Security Organization detention centre, was subjected to sexual assault, namely beatings on his genitals, forced nudity and threats of rape. The Group of Eminent Experts concluded that there are “reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict committed gender-based violence, including sexual violence”.
I urge all parties to commit to preventing and addressing conflict-related sexual violence, and to facilitating safe access for humanitarian service providers to deliver assistance to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and those at risk.