The overall human rights situation in Yemen significantly deteriorated in 2015. Human rights violations and abuses in Yemen took place on a large scale, including: the use of child soldiers; attacks on journalists and human rights defenders (HRDs); arbitrary detentions; destruction of civilian infrastructure; damage to Yemen's cultural heritage; and the lack of progress on improving the rights of women. Internal conflict further impeded the legitimate Yemeni authorities and undermined the protection of universal rights. On 1 July, the UN declared Yemen to be a Level Three Emergency, making Yemen one of the four most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises in the world.

The conflict has had a significant impact on civilians. The International Committee of the Red Cross warned that civilian suffering in Yemen had reached "unprecedented levels". Civilians were also the victims of terrorist attacks in Yemen. The UN reported that the use of children in armed conflict increased in 2015. Reports of gender-based violence were twice as numerous in December as in March.

There have been continued reports that the Houthis and forces loyal to ex-President Saleh have arbitrarily arrested, detained and abducted government supporters and HRDs. The NGO Reporters Without Borders reported that the Houthis and Al- Qaeda-linked armed groups were holding around 17 journalists hostage.

The UK supported a UN Human Rights Council resolution in October, which called on the UN to provide technical assistance to the government of Yemen, assist the Yemeni National Independent Commission of Inquiry, and report back to the next session of the HRC.

Throughout 2015, we raised the importance of respect for human rights law with the Coalition, the government of Yemen, and the Houthis. The UK has emphasised repeatedly to all parties, throughout the conflict, the importance of protecting civilians. We have supported the UN in their lobbying of the Houthis to stop using child soldiers.

The UK continued to support the UN-led peace process in 2015, politically and financially, recognising that a political solution is the best way to bring about long-term stability. UN- convened peace talks were held in June and December, where progress was made on confidence-building measures. The UK supported the UN Special Envoy in including women in the peace process. There was 20% female representation in both delegations at the December round of talks.

In 2016, the UK will continue to support the UN-led peace process to bring a political solution to the conflict, and call for all parties to improve humanitarian and commercial access. The UK is the fourth largest donor in response to this crisis, having more than doubled humanitarian aid to Yemen in 2016 to £85 million. The UK will continue to raise the importance of human rights law and protection of civilians with all parties.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.