Sanaa’: According to a UK-based rights group, Yemen has been named the country where the risk of genocide or mass killing rose the most last year.
In its annual “Peoples Under Threat” index released on Thursday, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) placed Syria at the top of the list for the third consecutive year.
But the MRG index found that risks rose most markedly in Yemen last year as the war raged on, with more than 10,000 people killed and millions driven from their homes.
MRG calculates the index based on a number of indicators, including democracy and governance, conflict data, and displacement, among others.
Yemen has been torn apart by conflict since 2014, when Houthi rebels, allied with troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, captured large expanses of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.
A coalition of Arab countries assembled by Saudi Arabia launched an air campaign against the rebels in March 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.
“Parties on both sides of the conflict have violated international humanitarian law with impunity,” the report said.
Besides Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen was listed eighth in a list of 70 countries where people are seen as being at risk.
Last month, UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein condemned a number of governments for refusing access to UN officials.
“Such an International isolation is a known risk factor for genocide or mass killing,” Mark Lattimer, MRG’s executive director, said in a statement
“If governments are increasingly evading international scrutiny, this is a serious concern,” he added.
According to the report, ‘UN human rights officials have been granted no access to Syria since the crisis began in 2011’
In more than six years of war, at least 400,000 people have been killed and nearly half the country’s population has been displaced, according to UN estimates.
Two-thirds of the countries where the risk of genocide or mass killing has risen are in Africa.
‘Officials in Nigeria have failed to respond to at least 14 UN outstanding requests to visit the country,’ the report stated.
“The government has claimed extensive military success in war against Boko Haram, but both the Nigerian army and … local vigilante groups supported by the government have been responsible for widespread abuses,” the report said.
The report also pointed to Burundi, where protests have turned violent over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, Cameroon, where the government cut off internet services in the English speaking areas in 2017 after demonstrations, and Uganda where dissent is increasingly suppressed.