A report says the number of casualties in Yemen remains unreported due to the media blackout imposed on the war-torn country by Saudi and Emirati invaders, putting the death toll among Yemenis at around 56,000 since early 2016 — over five times higher than the figure reported by the UN.
Patrick Cockburn, an award-winning columnist for The Independent, said in a recent article that understating the number of people killed in the war on Yemen has enabled Saudi Arabia and its allies to avoid a public outcry over their offensive.
He cited a toll of 56,000 by a nonprofit conflict-research organization that is five times higher than the regularly reported figure of 10,000.
“We estimate the number killed to be 56,000 civilians and combatants between January 2016 and October 2018,” said Andrea Carboni, who researches Yemen for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).
Cockburn said Carboni had told him that he expects a total toll of 70,000-80,000, when he completes research into the casualties by taking into account the number of victims between March 2015 — when the Saudi regime and its allies began a war on the country — and the end of that year.
Carboni was further quoted as saying that the number of the Yemenis being killed is increasing by more than 2,000 per month as fighting intensifies around the port city of Hudaydah.
“The oft-cited figure of 10,000 dead comes from a UN official speaking only of civilians in early 2017, and has remained static since. This out of date statistic, drawn from Yemen’s patchy and war-damaged health system, has enabled Saudi Arabia and the UAE – who lead a coalition of states strongly backed by the US, UK and France – to ignore or downplay the loss of life,” Cockburn said.
Saudi Arabia has finally admitted “mistakes” in a recent airstrike which killed children on a school bus in Yemen, but still insisted that the vehicle was carrying Houthi fighters.
He also complained of the media blackout on the developments on the ground in Yemen, stressing that the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, has turned the spotlight on the death of so many Yemenis.
“The absence of credible figures for the death toll in Yemen has made it easier for foreign powers to shrug off accusations they are complicit in a human disaster. That is despite frantic appeals from senior UN officials to the organization’s Security Council to avert a man-made famine which now threatens 14 million Yemenis – half the population,” he added.
Cockburn also noted that the Western countries still continue their assistance to the Riyadh regime in its deadly war on Yemen regardless of the rising number of casualties.
“The Khashoggi affair has led to greater international focus on the calamitous war in Yemen, and the role of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the conflict. But there is no sign of the US, Britain or France curtailing military assistance to the kingdom and the UAE, despite the likelihood the coalition will fail to win a decisive victory,” he said.
“The true “butcher’s bill” in the Yemen war has taken too long to emerge, but it may help to increase pressure on outside powers to stop the killing,” he added.
Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a brutal war against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall its former Riyadh-friendly president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who had earlier resigned amid a political conflict and fled to the Saudi capital.
The Houthi Ansarullah movement — which is now running state affairs in the absence of an effective government — has been defending the country against the Saudi-led aggression with the help of allied armed forces.
Back in June, the coalition launched the Hudaydah offensive despite international warnings that it would compound the war-torn nation’s humanitarian crisis.
The war on Yemen, coupled with a naval blockade, has destroyed the country’s infrastructure and led to famine as well as a cholera outbreak.
Last week, a UK-based charity warned that Yemenis face the triple threat of war, disease and hunger and that a civilian is killed every three hours in the impoverished country.
“One civilian has been killed every three hours in fighting in Yemen since the beginning of August, with many more people succumbing to disease and hunger,” Oxfam said in a statement, calling on the US, Britain and other European states to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia.