Violence in Yemen continued unabated in the six months following the landmark Stockholm Agreement, with tens of thousands of people newly displaced, more children losing their lives to mines, and key supply routes shut down, Norwegian Refugee Council said Tuesday.
“The Stockholm Agreement remains nothing but ink on paper if warring parties and their backers do not act now,” warned Mohamed Abdi, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Yemen Country Director.
“Yemen’s best chance of stopping hunger and ending the 4-year conflict risks fizzling into another failed peace attempt, despite the recent troop withdrawals from Hodeidah ports”, said Abdi.
The Stockholm Agreement was signed on 13 December 2018, and offered the brightest glimmer of hope for millions of Yemenis on the verge of starvation. But its implementation has fallen woefully short of expectations.
Displacement continued unabated over the past five months, with over 255,000 people forced to flee their homes, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
Over 26,000 people were made homeless in Hodeidah, the home to the battleground port at the centre of the deal, since the signing of the agreement.
Over 1,750 civilian casualties were reported across Yemen, including over 500 fatalities, in the first five months after signing the deal.
In Hodeidah, despite civilian casualties dropping overall, the area continued to see the highest rate in the country, making up a quarter of nationwide civilian casualties.
More than three times the number of civilians were killed or injured by small arms fire in the five months after the ceasefire than the same period preceding it.
Civilians are twice as likely to be hurt or killed by landmines now than they were before the deal - particularly children.
Thirty-four children were wounded or killed by landmines in the five months before the agreement; that number has more than doubled to 80 in the same period after.
Six months on and the Stockholm Agreement has had limited impact in enabling safe and sustained access to communities in frontline areas in Hodeidah. Over five million people across Yemen struggle to be reached with aid.
The biggest hurdles facing aid agencies are restrictions on the movement of goods and staff because of ongoing fighting and red tape, with areas declared as military zones by warring parties.
Since late April, one of the key land routes connecting Aden in the south to Sana’a in the north has been closed due to fighting. This has forced aid organisations to rely on insecure, mountainous routes that take four times longer and cost 60 per cent more to deliver aid.
“It is time for warring parties and their international backers arming and influencing them to shoulder their responsibilities and negotiate in good faith, so that the next six months don’t look like the last,” said Abdi.
“They must help increase the movement of goods from Hodeidah port across the country to ease civilian suffering, and share the ports’ revenues to pay the salaries of teachers, health workers and civil servants to bolster Yemen’s failing economy.”