Human Rights Watch: Houthi rebels and Yemen government violated right to water in Taizz, Yemen News
Apie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Human Rights Watch: Houthi rebels and Yemen government violated right to water in Taizz, Yemen

In a report issued Monday, Human Rights Watch expressed concern for the residents of Taizz, Yemen, who have been unable to access clean water for the past eight years during the conflict between Houthi forces and the Yemeni government, calling upon both parties to “allow Taizz’s local water agency to access, repair, and operate water infrastructure on the front lines and in Houthi-controlled territory.”

The report outlines the dire situation in the government-controlled, front-line city of Taizz. The war has devastated the water infrastructure in the region, meaning that most of the water sources, facilities and services are inoperable. The report states that the Houthi forces, who have laid siege upon Taizz, have weaponized water by blocking the flow into the Al-Hyma, Habir and Al-Hawban basins that had previously provided 77 percent of the city’s water supply. The report goes on to state that the Houthis have blocked the water “despite clear knowledge that Taizz city residents rely on water from these basins” and they have “repeatedly denied humanitarian aid agencies access to the city to provide water and sanitation services to residents.”

According to the report, the Yemeni government has also violated the residents’ right to water in Taizz, with government forces blocking water entering the public network, as well as taking control of several wells. The coalition has lead indiscriminate airstrikes, targeting both civilians and civilian objects, such as the water infrastructure.

The report calls on the Houthis and the Yemeni government to take “immediate actions to establish a coordination plan to ensure water availability, access, acceptability and quality in the governorate, and to address both short- and long-term water needs in Taizz.”

The civil war in Yemen which began in 2014, is a conflict between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the internationally-recognized government forces, backed by a Saudi and UAE-led coalition. The subsequent humanitarian emergency has been characterized as one of the world’s worst global crises, with over 4.5 million people displaced by the conflict and around 21.6 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Even before the current conflict, Yemen was one of the most water-scarce countries in the world and the ongoing civil war has only exacerbated the situation, with the UN estimating that around 15.3 million people do not have access to clean, safe water.