Human rights organizations slam Houthis for blocking Yemen roads in violation of international law

Roads in and around Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, have been blocked by Houthis since 2015 in violation of international humanitarian law, provoking ire from a coalition of 15 human rights organizations who banded together Monday to call for meaningful action in the region to ensure the free flow of medication, food, and other essentials.

The siege of Taiz has become nothing more than a card on the negotiating table. Civilians are paying a high cost to exercise their right of movement and access basic needs such as food, water and basic materials. The Houthis should immediately end undue restrictions on movement by opening major roads and allowing all Yemeni civilians to travel freely throughout their country.

Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, also a signatory to the initiative, said:

    Houthi restrictions have forced civilians to use dangerous and poorly maintained mountain roads that are the only connection between Taiz city’s besieged population and the rest of the world. Opening the main roads would help immensely to alleviate the suffering of a population that has been in near-total isolation for seven years.

Under international humanitarian law, parties to a conflict are required to “allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need, which is impartial in character and conducted without any adverse distinction, subject to their right of control.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights further states: “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.”

Since 2015, roads in and around the city have remained blocked, impeding access to food, medication, and other essential resources. Despite various efforts by international organizations and human rights advocates over the past seven years, progress has yet to be made, prompting human rights groups to band together to call for action.