Monthly briefing-December 2023

Political scene

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg revealed that Yemeni factions have agreed upon a series of initiatives that include a broad ceasefire, improving living conditions and engaging in an inclusive political process under the United Nations’ oversight. Meanwhile, the international arena surrounding Yemen has experienced heightened military operations, where the United States and European nations have declared the establishment of an alliance aimed at safeguarding trade in the Red Sea. This move comes in response to Houthi group attacks on several ships, allegedly in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza.

  • The leaders of the European Union missions, Germany, the Netherlands and France, held meetings with the Yemeni Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister, affirming their support for the Yemeni government in implementing reforms and supporting efforts to bring peace to Yemen. November 27
  • S. Special Envoy Tim Lenderking went on a Gulf tour to support efforts to end the Yemeni conflict and coordinate regional actions to safeguard maritime security in response to Houthi threats to global trade. He engaged in discussions with Yemeni leadership, including Dr. Rashad Al-Alimi and UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg to resume a political process under UN auspices. December 6
  • Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Riyadh, both Saudi Arabia and Russia released a joint statement expressing their complete support for global and regional efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive political resolution to the Yemeni crisis. December 7
  • The United States and nine other Arab and European countries announced the launch of a military operation to protect trade in the Red Sea, following the attacks by the Houthi group. The coalition includes the U.S., the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain, and some of those countries declared reservations about the military operation. December 19
  • The Supreme Council of Yemeni Popular Resistance called on all national forces, regardless of their political orientations, to hold a national conference and to take unified positions that reflect their collective will concerning their responsibilities to the homeland and the people, warning all of the potential danger of militarizing the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab. December 21
  • The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, revealed that Yemeni parties had agreed upon a series of measures, including a nationwide ceasefire, the disbursement of public sector salaries, the recommencement of oil exports, the reopening of roads in Taiz and other Yemeni regions, and the lifting of restrictions imposed on Sana’a Airport and Hodeidah Port. December 23
  • The Houthi leader, Ali Nasser Qarsha, announced the group’s refusal to sign with Saudi Arabia as a mediator in the Yemeni settlement, demanding that the agreement be signed as a party to the war, following the announcement of the UN special envoy to Yemen that the Yemeni parties had reached a set of measures for a comprehensive ceasefire. December 28

Military scene

December 2023 witnessed military developments on two fronts. Internally, tensions resurged with violent clashes between the National Army and the Houthi group on certain fronts. Military buildups were also observed in other areas following an uncertain truce. On the regional and international stages, the Houthi group escalated militarily in the Red Sea by launching missiles and drones, posing threats to navigation. This led to the declaration of an international maritime coalition named “Guardian of Prosperity.”

  • The United Nations Security Council of Yemen affirmed that regional and international factors have contributed to the efforts to achieve relative calm in the country. This comes against the backdrop of the Houthi group intensifying its military capabilities and engaging in widespread violations. November 29
  • A huge explosion occurred at weapons warehouses in the capital, Sana’a, causing material damage and human casualties. The Houthi group has not officially disclosed the details of the incident. November 30
  • Yemeni army forces shot down four Houthi drones, on several fronts, in Taiz, Al-Jawf and Saada, despite UN and international efforts to reach a new ceasefire agreement throughout the country. December 13
  • The U.S. Navy announced that it shot down a drone and a ballistic missile, launched by the Houthi group, south of the Red Sea. There was no report of injuries or damages. December 29

Security scene

The United States has enforced sanctions against 13 individuals and entities, accusing them of supporting the Houthi group’s threat to navigation in the Red Sea. The Panel of Experts directly accuses the group of utilizing counterfeit passports and currencies in the movements of its leaders. Recent security reports revealed the loss of nearly 2,000 Yemeni civilians since the conclusion of the truce. Despite the parties’ inability to renew the truce or achieve a comprehensive peace solution in Yemen, these reports emphasize the ongoing challenges in the nation.

  • The United Nations Group of Experts accused the Houthi group of using counterfeit passports and currencies, noting that investigations are underway into several allegations, including attempts to procure fake documents from a Chinese company specializing in banknotes. December 3
  • The Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) disclosed that over 2,000 violent incidents have taken place in Yemen since the conclusion of the humanitarian truce in early October. These incidents resulted in more than 1,938 casualties among civilians. December 4
  • The United States imposed new sanctions on 13 individuals and entities on charges of transferring tens of millions of dollars in foreign currency to the Houthi group (selling and shipping Iranian goods, including selling weapons), with the support of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. December 7
  • The Houthi group seized the house of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, in the capital, Sana’a, after converting it into a detention facility. December 13
  • Government forces successfully prevented a smuggling operation of weapons and ammunition to the Houthi group off the coast of Mocha in western Yemen. Two boats were seized during the operation, with one of them transporting the illicit cargo of weapons and ammunition. December 24

Economic Scene

Yemen’s Minister of Defense, Mohsen Al-Daari, supported the directive from the Hadhramaut Governor, Mabkhout bin Madi, to cease channeling the governorate’s revenues, including those from the “Mukalla Port” and the “Deposit Port,” to the central government. This decision comes in light of a severe financial crisis facing the government due to years of halted oil exports as a result of attacks by the Houthi group on ports under the control of the legitimate government. December 8

Violations

Alongside the UN expert report, local and international human rights organizations have recorded numerous violations throughout December 2023. These infractions encompass killings, abductions, landmine placement and the arbitrary detention of citizens. Discussions have also surfaced regarding the detrimental environmental consequences on the residents of Taiz due to the prolonged siege for several years. Reports further highlighted various forms of torture, including psychological, physical, sexual and incidents of rape.

  • The Yemeni landmine records documented the killing and injury of 15 civilians, including children, as a result of the explosions of mines planted by the Houthis in four Yemeni governorates. December 2
  • Association of Mothers of Abductees stated that 61 civilians are still forcibly detained in the temporary capital, Aden, which is controlled by the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council, for years, without knowing their fate. December 4
  • A Sana’a-based court associated with the Houthi group issued a death sentence to human rights activist Fatima Al-Arouli, accusing her of spying for the United Arab Emirates. Al-Arouli previously led an Organization for Human Rights Development and served as the head of the Office of Arab Women’s Leadership in Yemen, an entity affiliated with the League of Arab States. December 5
  • According to a human rights report, the Houthi group targeted 713 homes in Yemen during the war years, resulting in the deaths of 27 individuals and injuries to 24 others, including children and women. December 9
  • Human Rights Watch has reported that both the Houthi group and the Yemeni government violated the rights of Taiz residents to access clean water. The Houthis imposed a stringent siege on the city, while government forces sold water supplies to the population for personal financial gain, which increased the suffering of the population over the past eight years of war. December 12
  • The Houthi group shut down Eram FM radio in Sana’a, seizing all its assets. This action is consistent with the group’s ongoing strategy of confiscating and suppressing any media outlets that deviate from its directives. December 24

Humanitarian scene

  • The International Organization for Migration reported that 57,000 Yemenis have been displaced since 2023 due to factors linked to the ongoing war in the country and climate change. The Hodeida Governorate recorded the largest cases of displacement, followed by the Ma’rib Governorate. November 27
  • The World Food Program has discontinued food assistance in regions under the Houthi group’s control due to insufficient funding and the inability to reach an agreement. This decision is expected to impact 9.5 million people, while the program will persist in delivering food aid to needy families in government-controlled regions. December 5
  • The United Nations has issued a warning about an increase in cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, particularly among children. This increase is attributed to the disruption of vaccination campaigns and restricted access to numerous areas controlled by the Houthis over eight years. The warning includes alarming statistics, with 50,000 reported cases of measles and 568 deaths since the beginning of 2023. December 17
  • According to a report by OCHA, Yemen ranks among the countries most susceptible to climate change and is least equipped to handle climate-related shocks. The primary cause of displacement for 77% of over 300,000 recently or secondarily displaced individuals in the country is attributed to floods resulting from climate change. December 22

General news

Protests persist across various Yemeni cities, notably Taiz, Ma’rib, Sana’a, Ibb, Hajjah and Dhamar, spanning approximately 75 days. These demonstrations express solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemn the harsh Israeli aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Statistics

The United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) reported that the landmine victims from January 2023 until November 2023, reached 69 dead and 85 wounded, including 57% men, 37% children and 6 % of women.

  • January: 6 killed, 17 wounded.
  • February: 12 killed, 9 wounded.
  • March: 8 killed, 9 wounded.
  • April: 6 killed, 7 wounded.
  • May: 4 dead, 6 wounded.
  • June: 5 killed, 6 wounded.
  • July: 5 killed, 4 wounded.
  • August: 7 killed, 13 wounded.
  • September: 6 killed, 9 wounded.
  • October: 7 dead, 1 wounded.
  • November: 3 dead, 7 wounded. December 15
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