Global Appeal for Ceasefire Requires Commitment and Accountability in Yemen

Global Appeal for Ceasefire Requires Commitment and Accountability in Yemen

Global Appeal for Ceasefire Requires Commitment and Accountability in Yemen


Women4Yemen, Yemen



The recent outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic poses a global threat that requires global solidarity and a focus on joint efforts to face this unprecedented challenge. Yemen is not an exception, but after experiencing more than five years of war, the country is extremely unprepared to face the pandemic. As much as the coronavirus represents a global threat, it could also be an opportunity to start a new phase of peace.

We, in the Women4Yemen Network, welcome the call of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire to focus on “the true fight of our lives”. We also welcomed the initial positive responses by the Yemeni conflict parties: the Yemeni government, Ansar Allah movement (known as the Houthi group), and the Southern Transitional Council (STC), who all expressed their willingness to accept the UN-brokered calls. However, despite these statements, armed escalation continues to threaten the momentum:

  • Territorial expansion and continuation of domestic warfare: The Houthi group have continued their territorial expansion and broken their cease-fire declaration.
  • Missile attacks on Riyadh by the Houthi group.
  • Airstrikes by Saudi Arabia on Sanaa. A recent airstrike took place on March 30, following the attacks by the Houthis.

The Women4Yemen Network wishes to highlight the challenges to peace since the signing of the Stockholm Agreement, in order to draw upon new strategies and lessons learned:

  • Lack of fair peace monitoring mechanism:

While the UN Envoy to Yemen’s mandate is to lead mediation, there has to be strong monitoring of the peace efforts and the identification of any violation to the peace commitments by any actor.

  • Rewarding a culture of violence:

The exclusion of non-violent actors such as women, youth and other groups can send a message that using violence is the way to be heard.

  • Shrinkage of state presence against the rise of armed groups:

The state institutions are no longer functioning and there is an increasing dominance of non-state armed groups and new groups such as the Southern Transitional Council, supported by the UAE. The Yemeni government is under the control of Saudi Arabia. UN reports warn of the risk of undermining of Yemeni state presence due to the coalition led by the Saudis and Emirates.

  • Increased oppression of women peacebuilders and activists:

Various reports show that women peacebuilders and activists are facing unprecedented attack, particularly by the Houthi group. Women peacebuilders in Houthi-controlled areas face threats of their organizations being shut down as well as extreme restrictions around conducting meetings.

Territorial advance:

The Houthis have continued their strong territorial advance, even after signing the Stockholm Agreement. They moved towards Hajour and Dali. Recently the Houthi group seized Al Jawf after fierce local fights, causing massive displacement. They also started a new attack against Ma’rib, despite their public announcement of ceasefire.

Risk of losing pockets of stability:

Governorates like Marib and Jawf are considered pockets of stability, hosting a huge number of displaced people from other conflict-affected areas. However, the recent attacks threaten these pockets and it is already causing a humanitarian crisis and further displacement. Yemen has some of the highest rates of internal displacement in the world.

Regional negative interference:

Regional countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Iran, continue their negative interference by supporting proxy armed groups and political movements.

Arms sales:

Countries like the US, Canada, France, Germany and the UK continue to sell weapons to the Arab led coalition led by Saudi Arabia, despite the human rights violations. This will have a negative impact on the peace process in Yemen.

Attacks on health facilities:

Health infrastructure is hugely impacted and attacked by all parties to the conflict.

Control of aid:

Houthi authorities created an agency called NAMCHA (National Authority for Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Response) that controls and dictates aid allocation. There have been reports of some UN agencies being complicit with Houthi militants and supporting their agenda. Houthis are aware of the funding cycle and they put pressure on the UN and other international agencies to respond to their agenda.

In addition to the above threats, the Women4Yemen Network has made a number of observations via its work and networks that should be highlighted and addressed:

1. Lack of pressure on non-state actors:

We observed that the international community does not seems to have the tools or mechanisms to question and pressure non-state actors like the Houthi armed group or the STC. This will impact lasting peace. This unbalanced approach will not limit the extra state armed activities and will promote a culture which rewards violence and where people tend to join non-state militants.

2. Lack of monitoring of peace agreement commitments/breaches:

During the various peace brokered initiatives, there has not been clear monitoring of the peace progress and commitments made by the negotiating parties.

3. Gulf conflict impacts negatively on the war in Yemen:

After the rivalry between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, the conflict has resulted in polarization and new alliances with these countries that are mostly not nationally driven and this has greatly affected social cohesion.

4. Business cycle of development/aid:

According to reports, the Houthis obstruct aid and force organizations to follow their conditions. Many international organizations find themselves obliged to request permissions and accept conditions forced on them by the Houthi group. This is observed to be closely linked to the inability to assert pressure on non-state actors like the Houthis. The impact goes beyond the cases of corruption found by some UN agencies, but there is poor reporting of the current conditions for fear of retaliation and shutdown. This situation is problematic and requires more engagement and new approaches from donors and implementing agencies.


Women4Yemen Network believes that there are some opportunities that could be built on to resume peace negotiations and reach peace.

1. Convening of the parliament in Sayuon:

The convening of Parliament in the city of Sayuon is a positive and strategic step towards strengthening the State of Yemen.

2. Building trust measures:

This approach is important to at least address some of the imminent issues concerning people and to mitigate the tension.

3. Prisoners swap:

Last February, a major step was made with the signing of an agreement to swap more than 1,400 detainees under the auspices of the United Nations.

4. Riyadh agreement

The Saudi-brokered agreement is an opportunity to address the power conflict in the south.

5. Release of the Bahai detainees

Houthi declared the release of the Bahai detainees, a religious minority in Yemen, and this should be followed by the release of all arbitrary detainees and other deescalating acts.

6. Release of detainees by the Yemeni government

The Yemeni government announced the release of more than 470 prisoners from detention facilities under the government’s control as a precautionary measure against coronavirus.


We believe that for the global ceasefire to be implemented on the ground, there should be commitment from all parties, including regional and international actors, to support the peace process in Yemen. Also, there should be more work towards accountability and peace monitoring to ensure more commitment in the future. Below are our recommendations:

1. For immediate action:
- Release of all prisoners by all conflict parties amid the threat of the coronavirus outbreak.
- Put pressure on the Houthi group to stop the domestic attacks including shelling, landmines, detaining journalists, activists and women.
- Prioritize the protection of women and women peacebuilders and support all peace activities in Yemen as per the UNSCR 1325.

2. Necessary conditions for a lasting and inclusive peace:
- All parties should work together to revive the political negotiations and women should be included, with at least 30 percent representation.
- Establishment of a peace monitoring group to assess the progress of peace efforts and flag any breaches by all conflict parties.
- Inclusion of peace stakeholders like women and youth.
- The peace fostered by the UN should exert more focus on the regional and international conflict actors, primarily Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran. They should be clearly identified as part of the Yemen conflict, including the countries that sell weapons to conflict parties.
- Continuation of the trust building measures launched by the UN Envoy to Yemen.
- The UN and the international community should ensure less international and regional interference in Yemen in order for the domestic peace negotiations to succeed.
- The international community should protect and empower civil society and include this as one of the items of the peace negotiations.

3. Priorities for Humanitarian relief and recovery:
- The Houthi group should lift all the restrictions on civil society organizations.
- The international community should support the UN to resume its work in Yemen as the situation in the country cannot afford to lose support. According to UN agencies, the country is on the verge of a famine. The international community should put pressure on the Houthi group to stop interference in food aid, in particular, and in civil society, in general.
- The UN should consider relocating its headquarters away from the Houthi-controlled capital of Sana’a. This will improve partnership with civil society organizations and allow for accountability and monitoring needed for aid effectiveness.
- The UN should harness up-to-date technical measures to provide assistance which can ensure better accountability and monitoring. The aid should be directed more towards economic growth rather than relief support.


  1. Al-Thaibani, K. (2019). Agents for Change Women as Grassroots Peacebuilding in Yemen. Women4Yemen Network.
  2. Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen. (2019). Yemen: Collective failure, collective responsibility. OHCHR.
  3. HRW. (2019). Yemen: Riyadh Agreement Ignores Rights Abuses. Human Rights Watch.
  4. Joint Statement. (2020). Urgent Appeal To Release Prisoners and Detainees in Yemen.
  5. Kretschmer, B. N. (2019). BUILDING PEACE AND A PEACE-DRIVEN ECONOMY FOR YEMEN. Nobel Women Initiative.
  6. MICHAEL, M. (2019). Click to copy RELATED TOPICS AP Top News International News Middle East Sanaa Theft Yemen General News UN probes corruption in its own agencies in Yemen aid effort. AP.
  8. Panel of Experts on Yemen. (2018). Letter dated 26 January 2018 from the Panel of Experts on Yemen mandated by Security Council resolution 2342 (2017) addressed to the President of the Security Council. OHCHR.
  9. Panel of Experts on Yemen. (2020). Letter dated 27 January 2020 from the Panel of Experts on Yemen addressed to the President of the Security Council.
  10. Women4Yemen Network. (2019). Attacks On Aden: A Gateway To New Conflict Phase. Women4Yemen Network.
  11. Women4Yemen Network. (2019). Renewal and Strengthening of Group of Eminent Experts Mandate Would Be A Victory for Peace in Yemen. Women4Yemen Network.
  12. Women4Yemen Network. (2019). WFP's decision to halt aid is an indicator of a larger problem of crushed civil space, affecting the lives of millions of Yemenis and threatening opportunities for sustainable peace. Women4Yemen Network.
  13. Yemeni Archive. (2019). Medical Facilities Under Fire. Yemeni Archive.

Photo courtesy: Pulitzer-award winner Maad Alzekri

Urgent Appeal To Release Prisoners and Detainees in Yemen

Urgent Appeal To Release Prisoners and Detainees in Yemen

Urgent Appeal To Release Prisoners and Detainees in Yemen


Women4Yemen, Yemen


Yemen has been in conflict since 2014 which has caused extreme suffering to millions of people resulting in devastating conditions.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been detained for little or no reason, treated with cruelty and unfairness, in conditions that are not fit for any living being.
It is not just the political or military prisoners who face these conditions, but also those awaiting trials or serving their sentences.

Yemen's prisons and detention facilities lack the most basic provisions. There is no water or sanitation. Inmates live in cramped quarters, with neither their dignity nor their basic rights being respected. Broken windows, rats, cockroaches, damp, dirt and leaking toilets would cause a catastrophic disaster.



YET THE CONFLICT PARTIES IN YEMEN HAVE NOT HEEDED ANY CALLS. THE HOUTHI armed group WHO controls the highest number of detention centers in the north, The Southern Transitional Council that controls most detention centers in the South, in addition to the internationally recognized government that controls some prisons in the north and south of the country - NONE OF THEM HAVE TAKEN RESPONSIBLE ACTIONS TO PREVENT A NEW TRAGEDY UNFOLDING IN OUR MIDST. THEY DEMONSTRATE THEIR DISREGARD FOR YEMENI CITIZENS, BY CONTINUING TO COMPETE FOR POWER, IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY WILLING TO SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE LIVES AND WELLBEING OF OUR PEOPLE, OR FOR THE PROVISION OF public services and HEALTH CARE.

THE LIVES OF THE detainees and prisoners SHOULD NOT BE USED AS POLITICAL BARGAINING CHIPS. THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS AND DESERVE TO BE TREATED HUMANELY. All parties to the conflict should address this with responsibility and in a serious manner

Conflict parties in Yemen must release all prisoners URGENTLY. Their continued detention under the current circumstances not only threatens to spread COVID-19 amongst them but also beyond prison walls. THERE ARE OPTIONS AVAILABLE according to Yemeni law. PARTIES CAN:

release prisoners under house arrest, AND/OR
put them on no-travel lists

We ASK you to TAKE immediate action to pressure all conflict PARTIES in Yemen to release all prisoners before it is too late. YOUR VOICE AND YOUR WORDS AT THIS TIME, NOT ONLY MATTERS, BUT IT CAN SAVE LIVES, AND HELP US STEM THE SPREAD OF COVID 19. PLEASE JOIN US.

Sincerely yours,


1. ‎‏Abductees’ Mothers Association
2. American Center for Justice
3. Food4Humanity
4. ‎‏Freedom Foundation for media rights and freedoms
5. ‎‏Peace Track Initiative
6. ‎‏Rights Radar for human rights
7. ‎‏SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties
8. ‎‏The Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations (Rasd Coalition)
9. ‎‏Washington Center For Yemeni Studies
10. ‎‏Women4Yemen Network
11. Yemeni Archive
12. The Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights
13. The Yemeni Legal Center
14. Tamkeen Foundation for Development and Human Rights
15. Defa’a for Rights and Freedoms
16. Skyline International for Human Rights
17. Geneva Council for Human Rights
18. Humanitarian Studied and Media Center
19. Paris Francophone Institute for Freedoms
20. International Solidarity Foundation
21. Law Protection and Social Peace Promotion Foundation
22. Detainees’ Defense Authority
23. Civil Foundation for Development (Ta’aesh)
24. Reham Al-Badr Foundation for Humanitarian and Development
25. International Authority for Peace and Human Rights
26. International Council for Rights and Relief ICRR
27. Eradah Organization to Combat Torture and Forced Disappearance


Please click here to Sign this petition



The situation of the Yemeni women in Yemen

The situation of the Yemeni women in Yemen

The situation of the Yemeni women in Yemen


Women4Yemen, Yemen



I am here on behalf of ToBe Foundation and Women4Yemen Network to present our contribution to this discussion.


Situation for women:

Women in Yemen are the group most affected by the ongoing conflict, taking on full responsibility for the entire household alone and with no support. 1 million pregnant women are malnourished and 2,6 million women are at risk of gender-based violence[1]. Thousands of women delved into the job market for the first time with no skills in a country with a poor service delivery system. Child marriage has tripled since 2017 and women and girls are pressured to resort to negative coping mechanisms to make a living, such as begging, prostitution, getting into debt.[2]

Women activists in peace and civil society face unprecedented levels of retaliation and oppression by all parties to the conflict, particularity by the armed groups affiliated with the Ansar Allah Movement (known as the Houthi group) or the armed groups affiliated with the UAE-US led coalition, according to the recent report by the UN’s Group of Eminent Experts (GEE). The GEE report shows how gender norms are used as a weapon of war to silence women, and we have mentioned this point in a side event at the Human Rights Council, where we say that defamation, false prostitution accusations, and sexual violence were used to create social stigma to silence women activists, particularly peace activists, and this was worsened by a crushed civil society and media blackout.

At the decision-making level, women’s participation in political life and the peace process is extremely poor. In the last peace negotiations in Stockholm, only one woman participated. Yet, women’s voluntary efforts in other tracks of peace support the peace process. Women continue to form grassroots and high-level coalitions in order to unify their voices calling for peace.

We, therefore, call for:

  1. Immediate ceasefire
  2. Ensure effective participation of women in all peace processes, with at least 30 percent representation.
  3. Revive the peace process.
  4. Ceasing arms supplies in Yemen.
  5. Peace process should be inclusive and not only to those who cause conflict.
  6. Provide protection to women activists campaigning for peace and human rights.
  7. Pressuring all conflict parties to end all forms of sexual violence against women.
  8. Mainstream gender in all processes; women and civil society should be included in all committees and entities resulting from negotiations.
  9. Ensuring accountability for all violations in Yemen.
  10. Supporting grassroots women-led peace organizations such as the Association of the Mothers of Abductees.
  11. Working for respecting the humanitarian law and accountability measures by all parties. This must include to hold the international community accountable, the Swedish government and all other stakeholders who signed UNSCR 1325 and have shown commitment.


[2] Humanitarian Needs Review, 2019


  1. Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen*. (2019). Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  2. Hagedorn, E. (2019). Yemeni women activists escape war with the help of a global, underground network. PRI.
  3. Joint Statement. (n.d.). A call for peace in Yemen and women’s meaningful participation. UN Women; 1325; SAF Yemen.
  4. SAM Organization for Human Rights. (2019). ماذا بقي لنا؟[What has been left for us?].
  5. UNOCHA. (2019 ). Humanitarian Needs Review.
  6. Women4Yemen Network. (2018). Arbitrary arrest and detention of Yemeni Women jeopardizes gender equality and peace; threatens Stockholm Agreement. Women4Yemen Network.
  7. Women4Yemen Network. (2019). WFP decision to halt aid is an indicator of a larger problem of crushed civil space, affecting the lives of millions of Yemenis and threatening opportunities for sustainable peace. Women4Yemen Network.

The paper is a joint paper by Women4Yemen Network and ToBe Foundation organized by Operation 1325. The panel included Green Monica from UN Women in Sweden and Peter Semneby, the Sweden’s Envoy to Yemen. 

Lina Al-Hassani On Behalf of  Women4Yemen Network (Partner) ToBe Foundation (Director)

Agents for Change Women as Grassroots Peacebuilding in Yemen

Agents for Change Women as Grassroots Peacebuilding in Yemen

Agents for Change Women as Grassroots Peacebuilding in Yemen


Women4Yemen, Yemen



Women at the grassroots are playing a major role in peacebuilding and they can be agents for change in the current peace process in Yemen. In this report, the Women for Yemen (W4Y) Network investigates and highlights the work of those women, explores the possibilities for them to support peace and how they can do it. The research report is supported through the MENA Investigative Fund and you can download it here.

Renewal and Strengthening of Group of Eminent Experts Mandate Would Be A Victory for Peace in Yemen

Renewal and Strengthening of Group of Eminent Experts Mandate Would Be A Victory for Peace in Yemen

Renewal and Strengthening of Group of Eminent Experts Mandate Would Be A Victory for Peace in Yemen


Women4Yemen, Yemen


Women4Yemen Network urges the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution during the current session of the Council to renew and strengthen the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, given the Group’s crucial role in efforts towards accountability.

“Calling for accountability, including supporting the role of the Group of Eminent Experts, is a call for peace that we, as a women’s group working for peace, always demand. The endemic impunity present in Yemen must end if we hope to achieve reconciliation in the future and rebuild the social fabric required for a peace that lasts,” says Kawkab Al-Thaibani, Director of Women4Yemen Network.

The report of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen issued on September 3r, 2019, documented human rights abuses and violations and international humanitarian law violations during the last five years, including indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes, indiscriminate shelling, snipers targeting civilians, the use of antipersonnel landmines, as well as arbitrary killings and detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and impeding access to humanitarian aid in the midst of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

As a network that aspires for lasting peace, Women4Yemen Network sees the work of the Group of Eminent Experts as crucial, particularly as it shows the amount of abuse Yemeni women and women opponents have endured. The report mentioned violations and abuses meant to intimidate women from political participation. Highlighting the challenges women peacemakers and activists face aligns with our call that Yemeni women working in peace need additional support and protection, especially those working at a grassroots level.

The report calls for an end to warring party violations and abuses, and for greater efforts towards accountability. It highlights the role of foreign states, including the United States, Britain, France and Iran, in supporting parties to this conflict. The report recommends supporting the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen in his efforts to reach a political agreement to end the conflict and urges that accountability must be part of any efforts towards sustainable peace.

Sanctioning impunity and rewarding violence is one of the root causes of conflict in Yemen. Since the GCC-brokered initiative in 2011, and despite warning calls that granting immunity to individuals implicated in grave abuse could encourage more violence,  the international community has to date failed to take a strong stance in favor of credible accountability efforts in Yemen.

Yemen will not enjoy peace as long as local and international actors responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations and abuses of human rights are enjoying impunity. The Group of Eminent Experts report sends a message of hope that the world can still come together to provide justice to Yemeni victims, which would help, not hinder, peace efforts. Failure to support the Group of Experts including by renewing and strengthening its mandate, would be a failure to support peace calls in Yemen and would further encourage the current culture of rewarding violence.

Women4Yemen Network
September 18, 2019
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Sanaa, Yemen

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