people with disabilities, invisible victims of a forgotten war

by time news

The balance sheets of wars often come down to the first clinical observation of the number of dead and wounded, but the fate of the latter and their stigmata are generally relegated to the background. Even more so when the conflict in question is considered “forgotten”, as in Yemen.

→ ANALYSIS. In Yemen, seven years of an “ignored war”

As the war enters its eighth year, the NGO Handicap International (HI) published a report on Monday May 23 on the appalling situation of people with disabilities in this battered country. The text entitled “Unshielded and unseen”, the publication of which coincides with the annual week for the protection of civilians at the United Nations, is the result of a year of investigation, coordinated by Yasmine Daelman, advocacy manager for HI in the country. His observation is hard and without appeal: “This conflict is a laboratory for violations of all existing international standards, including resolution 2475 of June 2019, the very first on the protection of persons with disabilities in armed conflict. » Estimated at around 4.8 million by the UN, their number would in fact be much higher.

An entire generation traumatized

In addition to birth and chronic disabilities, prior to the start of hostilities in the summer of 2014, the war has caused a large number of amputations, due to the massive use of explosive weapons in populated areas (artillery, air strikes, mines, etc.). ). Conflicts create handicaps, aggravate pre-existing ones and make those who suffer from them even more vulnerable, affected in multiple ways. Many are, for example, afraid to leave their homes. “We live with the constant fear of being injured since we cannot flee in the event of explosions or armed clashes”, testifies a representative of people with disabilities in the report.

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Another factor of vulnerability: the reduced accessibility to health infrastructures, either because they have been destroyed – this is the case for half of them in Yemen – or because they are too far away geographically – more 4 million Yemenis are displaced by war. Or, finally, because of the prohibitive price of fuel.

“The war has also created an entire generation traumatized, the level of mental distress is incredible, still surprised Yasmine Daelman. A comprehensive and long-term approach is needed to provide humanitarian assistance and protect these populations, as provided for in resolution 2475.”

A fragile and historic moment

While January was the deadliest month in three years, the UN’s two-month truce between Houthi militiamen and the international coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, has largely reduced the number of dead and injured since then. April 2nd. “The bombardments have officially ceased, but this is not a total cessation of hostilitiestempers the specialist. It is a historic and fragile moment. »

MAINTENANCE. Sale of arms: “French weapons could have been used to commit war crimes”

Alongside the recommendations made in its report, such as respect by all parties for international humanitarian law and the return of an international investigation mechanism, HI also intends to challenge the United States, the United Kingdom and France, which provide in military equipment and arms the Saudi-led coalition since 2015. “France, which is an indirect player in the conflict, must return to its neutrality. As a permanent member of the Security Council, it has great leeway and an enormous responsibility, note Yasmine Daelman. She says she takes the crisis in Yemen seriously but sends so little money compared to Germany! It would be a strong symbol if it evolved. The truce gives him the opportunity to change. »

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