Although the civilian casualties decreased from 2018, the proportion of child casualties increased to 1 in 4
The civilian casualty total reduced by 34% from 4,836 reported in the previous year to 3,217 civilian casualties in 2019, of whom 1,265 (39%) were children (836) and women (429). However, a greater proportion of civilian casualties were children in 2019 than in 2018. A high child casualty toll accounted for 25% of the civilian casualties in 2019, up from 20% in 2018.
The number of civilian impact incidents remained high, seeing just a 6% decrease from 2018
Although the number of civilian impact incidents and civilian casualties decreased compared to 2018, 2,213 incidents were still recorded in 2019, a drop of just 6% from the previous year, due to a series of escalations in Yemen, primarily during the first half of 2019.
The impact on civilians lessened in the latter half of the year, as a result of deals struck between parties
The first six months saw the greater number of incidents, at an average of 215 per month, which slowed over the latter part of the year, dropping to 154, as a series of de-escalation agreements were struck between the warring parties.
The highest number of civilian casualties occurred when armed violence impacted civilian houses
As with the previous year, the highest number of civilian casualties in 2019 occurred when armed violence impacted directly upon houses. Just over half (51%) of all civilian casualties as a direct result of armed violence in the past year were recorded within houses, a notable increase from 2018, when 40% of casualties were reported within homes
17% more civilian houses were impacted in 2019 than in 2018
Civilian houses remained the most commonly impacted civilian structure across the country. 1,268 incidents of armed violence impacted on civilian houses in 2019, increasing by 9% from the previous year. 5,650 civilian houses were reportedly impacted; a 17% increase from 2018.
Education facilities were the most frequently impacted type of infrastructure
36 incidents of armed violence were reported to have directly impacted on education facilities in 2019, more than any other type of infrastructure. Although this was a slight reduction from 38 incidents to have impacted on education facilities in 2018, the number of resultant casualties increased from 26 to 135 in 2019. This was due in large part to the 7 April incident in Sana’a, where a school was damaged when an airstrike hit a nearby weapons cache in Sawan in Shuaub, causing an explosion that killed 14 civilians, including 13 children, and injured another 95.
Armed violence around the Red Sea Flour Mills restricted access to critical food infrastructure
Food infrastructure was also impacted heavily. All 8 incidents impacting on food facilities were a result of repeat hostilities in the vicinity of the Red Sea Mills in Al-Hudaydah, forcing the site to suspend production, and affecting an estimated 455,571 households.
Airstrikes in 2019 resulted in less than a third of the civilian casualties they caused in 2018
The civilian impact from airstrikes significantly decreased in the past year, falling 71% from causing 1,113 civilian impact incidents in 2018 to 322 in 2019. The number of casualties caused by airstrikes also decreased by more than two-thirds in 2019, causing 795 civilian casualties compared to 2,588 in 2018.
There was an increase in the number of civilian impact incidents caused by all other types of armed violence
Shellfire resulted in the greatest direct impact on civilians in 2019, accounting for 1,311 (59%) of the 2,213 civilian impact incidents nationwide, and accounting for 1,210 civilian casualties, more than any other type of armed violence and 38% of all civilian casualties nationwide. The number of incidents caused by re from small arms and light weapons, including sniper fire, totalled 377, more than double the 182 reported in 2018, and the resultant civilian casualties also rose, by 38%, from 493 in 2018 to 678. Landmines, IEDs and UXO collectively resulted in 498 civilian casualties in 2019, up 23% from 405 the year before.
Al-Hudaydah again saw the highest number of civilian casualties and civilian impact incidents
Despite a UN-brokered ceasefire being in place throughout the year in Al-Hudaydah, the number of civilian incidents in the governorate increased by 28% compared to 2018. 966 incidents of armed violence were reported in Al-Hudaydah during 2019, the highest countrywide. Although the governorate also saw the highest civilian casualty rate countrywide, 768, this is a reduction of 62% compared to civilian casualty rates across the governorate during 2018. This is likely in part as there were fewer mass casualty incidents reported in the governorate in 2019, along with a significant decrease in civilian casualties from airstrikes, but also because the Al-Hudaydah Agreement resulted in frontlines becoming fixed in place, remaining unchanged throughout the year; when frontlines are dynamic and changeable, the impact on civilians is often significantly higher than when frontlines are static.
Rapid escalations in non-frontline areas resulted in a high civilian impact
Also in the Al-Hudaydah hub, Hajja saw a turbulent start to 2019, as conflict escalated in Kushar district from mid January, including an intensive air raid campaign, prompting an uptick in the civilian impact of the conflict on the local population and highlighting the dangers of dynamic frontlines to civilian populations who have not previously been exposed to armed violence. 305 civilian casualties were reported in Hajja in 2019, just a slight decrease compared to 323 in 2018, and the number of incidents of armed violence rose by 9% from the previous year, from 90 to 98.
Airstrikes were again the deadliest type of armed violence to impact on civilians in the Sana’a hub, resulting in several mass civilian casualty incidents during 2019
On 1 September, airstrikes hit a prison in Dhamar, killing 156 people and injuring another 50. The incident was responsible for over half of the civilian fatalities reported across the Sana’a hub in 2019. Another airstrike incident was responsible for 77 civilian casualties in Sana’a city in May, and in April, a weapons cache exploded next to a school in the capital, having reportedly been hit by an airstrike, resulting in 110 civilian casualties, 52% of whom were children. Throughout the year, airstrikes were responsible for 438 civilian casualties across Sana’a hub, 67% out of a total of 652.
Fighting in residential neighbourhoods in Taiz city took a heavy toll on the civilian population
Fierce fighting in residential neighbourhoods in Taiz city caused an 81% increase in civilian casualties, from 137 civilian casualties in the city in 2018, to 248 in 2019. The fighting also impacted on critical health infrastructure. 3 incidents impacted directly on the Ath Thawrah and Al-Mudhaffar hospitals, restricting access to healthcare for as many as 32,589 households. An MSF-supported hospital in Al-Mokha city on the west coast was also damaged in 2019, when a missile attack hit a nearby military camp.
Fighting on the Qa'atabah frontlines in Al-Dhale resulted in severe access constraints
In Aden hub, the majority of civilian casualties were reported in Al-Dhale (304), as fierce fighting developed on the frontlines in Qa’atabah district from late March. 7 bridges were also destroyed in Al-Dhale in 2019, 5 of which were in Qa’atabah district, posing severe access restrictions on major routes, impacting the flow of civilian traffic and goods, and also hindering humanitarian access.