Yemen pounded with more airstrikes already in 2017 than in whole of 2016

Yemen pounded with more airstrikes already in 2017 than in whole of 2016
International bombardment and street fighting have increased significantly this year, paving the way for a cholera epidemic to spread to half a million people.
3 min read
15 August, 2017
The war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 since it began in 2014 [Getty]
Yemen has been hit by more airstrikes in the first six months of 2017 than in the whole of last year, according to a UN report released on Monday.

The war-torn nation, the site of a civil war being fought between proxies of geopolitical regional rivals, has seen its monthly number of aerial bombings treble compared with the same period in 2016.

There have been 5,676 airstrikes so far in 2017, a monthly average of 946, reported the UNHCR's Protection Cluster Yemen group. In 2016, Yemen saw a total of 3,936 airstrikes - a monthly average of 328.

The report is based on a compilation of UN and open source data and highlights the growing violence, with fighting intensifying significantly in 2017. 

There were 2,811 armed clashes between government forces and the Houthi rebel alliance between January and June, compared with 3,610 in the whole of 2016.

While the report does not lay blame with any international party for the air raids, the Saudi-led Arab military coalition - allied with President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi's exiled government - largely controls Yemen's airspace, while the US has increased drone strikes on suspected al-Qaeda targets in Yemen.

A spokesperson for the coalition did not respond to AFP's requests for comment on Monday. 

Since 2015, Yemen has seen a devastating war between the Saudi-backed government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels who took over the capital the previous September.

International rights groups have accused the coalition of bombing civilian areas including public gatherings, markets, hospitals and residential areas across Yemen since the aerial campaign against Houthi rebels began in 2015.

UN figures suggest more than 10,000 people have been killed and thousands more wounded since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened on behalf of the internationally recognised government.

The country is also regularly targeted by US drone strikes aiming for al-Qaeda cells that have flourished in the chaos of the conflict, mainly in the south of the country.

'Deadly cholera outbreak'

Yemen has also witnessed a deadly cholera outbreak killing more than 2,000 people, which has been described by UN officials as "the largest humanitarian crisis in the world".

The highly contagious disease is treatable, but the collapse of Yemen's infrastructure following more than two years of war has created a "perfect storm for cholera", the World Health Organisation said on Monday, as it revealed more than half a million people had now been infected in the cholera epidemic.

WHO warned that the disease had spread rapidly due to deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions, with millions of people cut off from clean water sources across the country.

"Yemen's health workers are operating in impossible conditions," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

"Thousands of people are sick, but there are not enough hospitals, not enough medicines, not enough clean water."

Many of the doctors and nurses needed to rein in the outbreak in Yemen have not been paid for nearly a year.

Agencies contributed to this report.