SANA’A – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross told EFE in an interview on Friday that all parties involved in the conflict in Yemen were committing violations of the international humanitarian law and urged them to spare civilians and infrastructure in their attacks.
Peter Maurer said the issue was not limited to the Yemeni sides fighting in the conflict that started in March 2015 between the Houthi rebels and forces of the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, but also extended to other countries involved.
“We have to change the behavior of the belligerence. What I saw during this week was clear indications of violations of the international humanitarian law by all combatants from all sides,” Maurer said.
Civilian infrastructure was being destroyed in the conflict, he said.
“We do need a change of behavior not only from Yemeni parties and the parties to the conflict within the country. We know that this has been an internationalized conflict with a coalition of countries also fighting in Yemen, and we need the same respect for the International Humanitarian Law from those international actors,” he said.
Maurer said that, during his visit, he called on the conflicting parties to ensure that detainees receive humane treatment and to allow the ICRC access to prisons so they can assess the situation of those detainees, making it easier for the international organization to arrange for prisoner exchange negotiations.
“It’s time to change course to let ICRC to detention facilities to let us to our work on bringing forward a comprehensive view on who is detained and to be instrumentally organizing and helping parties to find a consensus on exchanges,” he added.
During his tour of three major cities, Maurer visited for the first time the detention centers holding prisoners and detainees connected to the conflict in Sana’a and Taiz, the country’s third largest city.
“I am glad that commitments have been made, and I am very appreciative that symbolic steps have been done through the fact that in Sana’a as well as in Taiz on two different sides of the frontlines, I could for the first time visit detainees in the context of conflict, and I think this is a promising beginning which needs to be followed,” Maurer concluded.