Yemen (2017 – present)
“I give Crisis Action 10/10, and personally I’ve learned a lot from Crisis Action’s model. I’ve never seen an organization that can network and mobilize so effectively, and at the same time respect all its partners. Crisis Action’s professional and honest work means a lot to us. Yemen is a country which a small effort can make a serious difference. The efforts of Crisis Action champions helped us to reach our voice to the UNSC and achieve important steps that give us all a hope that some difference can be made.” —Radhya Almutawakel, President, Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights.
The conflict in Yemen escalated in 2015 after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched a military intervention in the hopes of defeating the Houthi armed groups and restoring the internationally recognized Yemeni government.
Seven years later the conflict continues and has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with almost 80% of the country’s population needing aid to survive. All sides of the conflict have conducted themselves in a way that violates international law — from airstrikes on civilian sites, blockades of major air and sea ports, torture and indiscriminate detention, and extensive obstruction of aid delivery.
Since 2015, the conflict has caused nearly 400,000 deaths, with 60% attributed to indirect causes such as hunger and preventable diseases, and 38.5% caused by front-line combat and airstrikes. The war has had a severe impact on Yemeni children. More than 10,000 children have been killed or maimed since the beginning of the conflict. Some 2 million children are out of school during vital developmental years.
In 2017, Crisis Action responded to partner requests to organize a global campaign aimed at pressuring the warring parties to adhere to a revitalized, inclusive peace process, tangible measures to address the humanitarian crisis, and an end to attacks on civilians. Since then, we have sought stronger accountability for war crimes, an end to arbitrary detention and a halt to arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition.
Crisis Action has brought together a global network of partners and allies to:
- Galvanize international condemnation to force the Saudis to lift a total blockade on Yemen’s air and sea ports that was preventing vital imports of food, fuel, medicines and humanitarian aid in 2017.
- Prevent a catastrophic, UAE-led attack on the critical port city of Hodeidah, which threatened the lives of 250,000 civilians, and pressure the parties to enter a ceasefire around the city in 2018.
- Promote a UK court of appeal ruling that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful in 2019.
- Support Yemenis advocating to the United States, United Kingdom, France, and UN Security Council and Human Rights Council member states, frequently overcoming unfair restrictions placed upon Yemenis traveling internationally.
- Work with Yemeni and international NGOs on a joint advocacy, media and social media campaign that helped secure the release of 1,081 arbitrary detainees in 2020 — the conflict’s largest ever prisoner exchange.
- Work with Yemeni and international partners to persuade governments at the UN Human Rights Council between 2017 and 2019, to establish then strengthen the mandate of the UN’s Group of Eminent Experts (GEE) — a mechanism for gathering and sharing evidence to bring accountability for war crimes.
- Support efforts to reverse funding cuts to the UN’s humanitarian appeal, including coordinating a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from more than 70 US legislators and supportive coverage on CNN, which helped secure more than 200 million USD of aid funding.
- Use an array of tactics —which included an op-ed in the Washington Post, a public call from 100 Christian faith leaders representing all 50 US states to end US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a CNN exposé of US arms transferred or lost to Yemeni militia, a joint letter from major INGO heads to the US government, and partner testimonies in Congressional hearings—to convince the US to suspend arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition in 2020.
- Help persuade the Macron administration in France to allow more parliamentary oversight of French arms sales, including to the Saudi-led coalition. This followed a diverse array of campaign tactics, including: a celebrity video viewed half a million times on social media; a mural by a Yemeni street artist in Paris and an innovative ‘die-in’ protest in Paris (both covered widely in French media); a 250,000-name petition; a series of widely reported press conferences; and a joint statement by a dozen French and international NGOs.
- Help organize a letter signed by 56 NGOs calling on the German government to ban arms exports to all members of the Saudi/UAE-led coalition. Later that month, the German government extended its moratorium on the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
- Help coordinate a joint set of recommendations from a coalition of 14 Yemeni CSOs to the UN Special Envoy on how to make the peace process more inclusive and sustainable.
Regrettably, the UN accountability mechanism that Crisis Action, our partners and allies worked so hard to see implemented–the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (GEE)–was disbanded in late 2021 following an extensive Saudi lobbying campaign. In the following months, rates of civilian casualties escalated dramatically until, in April 2022, the UN negotiated a tentative truce between all parties that remains in place for now. While all hopes are that the truce can be turned into a lasting peace, our campaign is now focused on securing a more robust accountability mechanism to replace the GEE, to ensure–if the fragile truce fails–that all parties responsible for future violations of international law are held accountable and Yemeni civilians receive justice.