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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 20 October 2021

Abandoned dead bodies are a horrible but very real problem of war

Look at Yemen today.

Bodies of people killed in a suicide attack during the noon prayer are covered in blankets in a mosque in Sanaa
Bodies of people killed in a suicide attack during the noon prayer are covered in blankets in a mosque in Sanaa
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE of the Red Cross is “extremely concerned” by a growing number of corpses being abandoned in the war zones of Yemen.

“With the escalation of the fighting, more casualties are being left behind owing to the increased danger associated with retrieving the wounded and the dead,” said Nourane Houas, head of the ICRC’s Protection Department in war-ravaged Yemen.

“International humanitarian law requires that dead bodies be treated properly and with respect,” the ICRC said in a statement.

Houas urged all sides in the conflict “to respect the dignity of the dead and to allow their swift recovery, while taking all feasible measures to ensure their proper identification and their handover to the families”.

Under Islam, the predominant religion in Yemen, the dead should be buried the same day whenever possible.

“Failure to identify the dead puts them in the ranks of the missing, and prevents the families from mourning,” said Houas.

The ICRC said it has helped retrieve more than 407 dead bodies since March.

Fighting has intensified since that month after Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies entered President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s last refuge, the southern port city of Aden.

Hadi fled the country and on 26 March, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of Arab states in carrying out air strikes against rebel positions across Yemen.

The Worl d Health Organisation says the conflict had claimed 4,345 lives from March up until 5 August.

Half of those killed are civilians, and 80% of Yemen’s 21 million people need aid and protection, according to UN figures.

Unicef said this week that about eight children are being killed or maimed every day in the country.

In the past four months, 398 children have died and another 605 injured.

“Children are being killed by bombs or bullets and those that survive face the growing threat of disease and malnutrition. This cannot be allowed to continue,” said the organisation’s representative Julien Harneis.

The number of children recruited as fighters has also doubled to at least 377 so far this year.

More: You need to read about Yemen…

Read: Bombed, embargoed, displaced: life inside war-torn Yemen

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