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Cut off from imports, and under ceaseless Saudi bombardment, Yemen is now one of the worst humanitarian crises of modern times. Seven million Yemenis live in areas that are close to famine, two million children are suffering from acute malnutrition, and an outbreak of cholera has infected over 600,000 people.
The International Red Cross is drastically reducing its presence in Afghanistan after seven staff members were killed in attacks this year. Many other humanitarian organisations have pulled out of the country in recent years as Taliban and Islamic State militants have stepped up attacks.
The UN Secretary-General’s annual report names 64 perpetrators for abuse and exploitation of children in conflict, including the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition in Yemen. Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition member Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict has documented violations in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition, including attacks on hospitals and their impact on children's health.
Renewed bombing of hospitals in Syria’s six-year civil war by forces loyal to the government of Bashar al-Assad has sparked strong condemnations by human rights groups and despair among local doctors, who accuse the international community of ignoring attacks on medical facilities.
As chair of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, Leonard Rubenstein outlines eight concrete steps states can take now—on their own and through UN bodies—to protect health workers and the sanctity of health care. His statement was given at a UN General Assembly side event on September 22, 2017.
At the UN Human Rights Council. Canada joined countries calling for an international commission of inquiry into abuses in the armed conflict in Yemen. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, some amounting to war crimes, have killed thousands of civilians and hit schools and hospitals.
To advance international efforts to protect health care in conflict areas, UN Missions of Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom in collaboration with the Lancet-American University of Beirut Commission on Syria and Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, are organizing a side event during UNGA 72.
The Special Rapporteur on the right to health for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spoke at a side event on September 12, 2017 at the Human Rights Council and emphasized that attacks on and interference with health care constitute one of the primary impediments to the realization of the right to health.