The American Center for Justice (ACJ) calls on the international community, its states, agencies, institutions and alliances to pay adequate attention to the file of the siege of Taiz and the humanitarian crisis in it, and to prioritize it to end the war in Yemen, in view of how important this file is in the Yemeni crisis since there are a number of political and social problems that interact in Taiz, including the largest manifestations of the humanitarian crisis and violations of human rights.
Taiz has been under crippling siege since 2015 in light of international engagement that makes lifting this siege and alleviating the suffering of civilians a sub-issue that receives little attention and a few promises that are soon repudiated. This file is only discussed marginally when there are international efforts and discussions to end the war in Yemen. Although Taiz is living in the harshest conditions of war, where all the features of the Yemeni humanitarian crisis are embodied and most human rights violations and war crimes are committed, ending this suffering has not become a priority for the international community, neither at the level of discourse, nor in terms of efforts to bring peace to Yemen. Furthermore, no attention is paid to the violations committed there, or to the impact of the siege on the humanitarian situation.
The American Center for Justice and all local, regional and international human rights organizations noted that the lifting of the siege on the city of Taiz came on the sidelines of the announcement of the humanitarian truce in Yemen a month ago. Although the other terms and conditions of the truce are constantly being worked on, and the media focuses on them on daily basis, the lifting of the siege on the city of Taiz is still being neglected and ignored.
According to Taiz Human Rights Center, 3590 civilians were killed, including 761 children, 347 women and 289 elderly people while 13736 others were injured, including 3155 children, 1180 women and 764 elderly people from 2015 to 2020 as a result of the bombing and sniping carried out by the Houthi group (Ansar Allah) during this period.
Rasd Coalition documented the killing and wounding of 366 children in Taiz, between aged (1-17) by Houthi snipers, during the period from March 2015 until August 2020.
Civilians are targeted by either artillery or missile shelling of the Houthi group (Ansar Allah), or by Houthi-affiliated snipers stationed on the mountains, hills and rooftops surrounding the city. This targeting does not distinguish between children, women, the elderly, men or youth, and it led to the killing of thousands of civilians. This targeting also impeded the movement of the civilians and led to their displacement from their homes where many neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city became empty, and their buildings were completely looted.
Activists, workers in relief organizations and agencies, journalists and media personnel inside the city are also being targeted, either by bombing, sniping, or assassinations to prevent them from conveying the truth, revealing and documenting violations, or providing aid to civilians.
The siege is to prevent movement between the center of the governorate and its countryside and other governorates by blocking the main and secondary routes and access, building barricades and barriers and digging trenches in them, and diverting their paths to long, rugged, remote and crooked roads. Now there is only one main access left for civilians to reach the city, which was opened after long battles in 2015 and 2016. Civilians from all regions are forced to go through long distances and crowded and unpaved roads to reach that access.
This siege has obstructed the delivery of basic and necessary materials, including water, food, medicine and medical supplies. In addition, relief organizations providing humanitarian aid have been prevented from reaching civilians affected by the war and siege, which has led to the scarcity or absence of basic and necessary materials in the city’s markets, as well as increasing their prices, not to mention the low purchasing power of stranded citizens, who have lost their sources of income and jobs. What exacerbated the matter was the crisis of oil derivatives and domestic gas.
One of the manifestations of the humanitarian crisis in Taiz is the deterioration of the health system and medical services, which has exacerbated the suffering of patients and their inability to obtain adequate health care.
Due to the lack of treatment centers for patients with renal failure in the countryside of Taiz governorate, more than 200 of these patients suffer the hardship of traveling to the city to have dialysis sessions periodically in Taiz, and they are forced to spend large sums and go through long trips to reach the only treatment center that suffers from a shortage in therapeutic materials and devices.
Because of the lack of equipment in the dialysis center, patients may have to delay their sessions for several days, which means more costs of accommodation in the city and more suffering for them. According to the information available from Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz, the dialysis center receives 88 cases a day, which puts great pressure on it and prevents patients from receiving adequate care.
The Center could probably stop operating due to the unavailability of fuel for the generators of the center after the electricity outage in the city since 2015. It is worth mentioning that the World Health Organization stopped supplying the center with fuel last year. However, the center still receives philanthropic aid, which is not sufficient to operate the center with its full equipment and devices, as the center needs medicines, medical supplies, and permanent maintenance operations for devices and equipment, in addition to the need for expansion and increasing its ability to receive patients.
Furthermore, 643 cancer patients died in Taiz in 2015 as a result of the Houthis’ closure of the Al-Amal Center for Oncology, which used to receive more than 150 patients per day. The center was reopened later after the Houthis left the city, but the center suffers from an acute shortage of medicines, especially chemical ones, due to the siege and war.