Statement on the death of Awad Mahyoub Saif5 November 2020
On the 13th of October 2020, Awad Mahyoub Saif, aged 32 years old and father of two, was killed by shelling that destroyed his home in Sala district, Taiz, Yemen. Awad was a volunteer member of a community action group established in July 2020, supported by the National Organisation for Community Development (NODS) and Saferworld. As part of his role, he supervised an initiative to fix the sewage network in al-Hrazieh as part of a rapid response to COVID-19 and other diseases. Awad was living with his family in al-Hrazieh after being displaced. His 14-year-old brother Ayoub was also injured by the shelling and was hospitalised as a result. Awad had lost his father a year ago in similar circumstances.
“Awad was among the first to stand with the people of al-Hrazieh and join the community action group since the beginning weeks of its inception to serve the area’s people through development and social work. He was a man of his word, trustworthy, with a smiling face at all times.” – a tribute post by his community action group.
Saferworld and NODS send their deepest condolences to Awad’s family, the community action group in al-Hrazieh, and all peacebuilders in this difficult time and stand in solidarity with all Yemeni civilians bearing the brunt of this cruel war. We are reminded every day of the life-threatening circumstances that Yemeni civil society, activists and volunteers such as Awad face.
The crisis in Yemen is an aggregation of such tragedies in almost every household. In recent weeks in Taiz, a missile hit the Al Amal cancer treatment centre in the city centre, injuring two staff members; there was shelling near Al Jomhouri Hospital which injured two civilians; and another missile struck in the vicinity of a school in a residential area, forcing the school to close. Yemeni civil society organisations have documented the numerous indiscriminate attacks perpetrated by parties to the conflict, particularly on healthcare facilities and schools. The UN Human Rights Council’s Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen have consistently reported on violations of international law that may amount to war crimes (2018, 2019, 2020), yet they remain commonplace with accountability mechanisms so far proving powerless to prevent them.
“Such crimes must be urgently investigated, with their perpetrators condemned and held accountable. We demand that this incident be investigated, documented, and raised to official bodies and rights organisations. We also demand that Awad’s family be taken care of with all its needs”, adds Muaadh al-Soufi from NODS.
Crucially, more international media coverage is needed to help keep Yemen high on the agenda and keep up pressure to put an end to the fighting.
We urge all conflict parties and their backers to respond to the efforts of the UN Special Envoy’s office to reach a nationwide ceasefire, resume political talks to end the war in Yemen, and avoid harm to peacebuilders, humanitarian workers and all civilians. We will continue to stand with our partners in their efforts to build peace in Yemen. The Yemeni people have suffered enough, it is time for this war to end.