Three airstrikes on Sa’ada City reservoirs on January 11 have been condemned by Yemeni officials as war crimes.
Deputy Minister of Water and Environment, Hanin al-Darib told news networks that the Talmous water station and its reservoirs were targeted by Saudi Arabia. The water station is the sole supplier of water to Sa’ada City and its suburbs including a large population of displaced people. In total, an estimated 200,000 are affected by the attacks that have cut off supply.
Yemeni officials have labelled the attacks war crimes and Al-Darib emphasized that the attacks came during a severe fuel shortage in the country, further aggravating the situation in Sa’ada City. The Talmous drinking water project was a civilian facility and international organizations have been urged to fulfill their responsibilities towards the women and children in Sa’ada.
The United Nations and human rights groups have been urged to condemn the Saudi attack on water fields and resources that provide the residents of Sa’ada city with safe drinking water.
In this context, the Geneva List of Principles on the Protection of Water Infrastructure (the Geneva List) could be applied.
The Geneva List is a reference document prepared by the Geneva Water Hub for the use of parties to armed conflicts, international organizations, and other practitioners working in the contexts of armed conflicts, including in pre- and post-conflict situations. It is the first text that systematizes the main rules applicable to the protection of water infrastructure during armed conflicts, specifically in the conduct of hostilities, as well as in pre-conflict and post-conflict situations and sets forth good practices.
The current conflict, launched by Saudi Arabia and some of its regional allies in 2015, has failed to reach its goals of reinstating former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, but has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemeni people in the meantime. Incoming fuel shipments have been blocked, looting of resources continues.
The UN, labelling the situation the worst humanitarian disaster in the world, asserts that 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger. The war has destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure, including hospitals, factories, and water services.