Yemen: The Humanitarian Crisis in the Shadows

Destroyed home of al-Akwa family in which five civilians were killed in two consecutive airstrikes on 13 June 2015. (Credit: Amnesty International)

Destroyed home of al-Akwa family in which five civilians were killed in two consecutive airstrikes on 13 June 2015. (Credit: Amnesty International)

By Ali Azizi, Yemen Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA

Despite more than 100 days of heavy fighting, the impoverished country of Yemen is facing a humanitarian crisis that you most likely haven’t heard of.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are more than 21 million people – 80 percent of the population — in need of aid throughout the country. All essential supplies, from food to fuel to medical supplies, are in severe shortage.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

From Animal Cartoons to Opposition to the Death Penalty: Just About Anything Can Land You in Prison in Iran

Artist Atena Farghadani

Artist Atena Farghadani

It seems that not one single thing escapes the attention of hardliners in Iran, bent on using the extraordinary powers they hold to suppress every effort by Iranians to exercise their right to freedom of expression. They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.

Although such preoccupations may seem risible to some, the people who are caught up in this dragnet are suffering very real and harsh consequences. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The State of LGBT Human Rights Worldwide

LGBT activists take part in a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg, Russia, 29 June 2013. (EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV)

LGBT activists take part in a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg, Russia, 29 June 2013. (EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV)

Across the globe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) continue to face endemic violence, legal discrimination, and other human rights violations on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As we move from International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia this week to Pride month in the United States, Amnesty International stands with everyone working to guarantee the fundamental human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Four Years into the Syrian Conflict

Photo: Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo: Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images)

The lights are going out in Syria.

As the humanitarian crisis in Syria worsens, the darkness is literally spreading.  More than 80 percent of lights have gone out across Syria since March 2011; in Aleppo, site of fighting for more than two years, 97 percent of lights are not working.

If you want to understand what that means, listen to this description from a Syrian surgeon in Aleppo:

Marwan was on the operating table when the lights blinked and fizzed out,” the doctor said. “The nurse pulled her mobile phone from her pocket – generating the only light in the pitch-black basement. Others followed suit, producing just enough light to allow me to finish repairing his broken little body.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Evaporating Hope for My Missing Daughter

By Munira al-Hamwi, mother of ‘disappeared’ Syrian human rights attorney Razan Zaitouneh

Syria-Razan-Abduction-SM-graphic

They asked me to write about my daughter, Razan Zaitouneh. I am not a journalist or a writer but I will write what is on my mind. I will not talk about Razan’s work or her achievements as so many others have done so already.

I will never forget those times at the start of the uprising in Syria when she faded out of the public eye in order to avoid arrest. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Three Steps to Achieve a Lasting Peace in Israel and Gaza

TRUCE

Palestinian children light candles next the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City on August 27, 2014 after a long-term truce took hold following a deal hailed by Israel and Hamas as ‘victory’ in the 50-day war. (Photo credit: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

By Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International

We have seen, over and over again ceasefires dissipate in the dust of renewed bombings. Here are three basic human rights which must not be neglected if there is to be any hope for a just and sustainable peace.

The newly brokered truce between Israel and the Palestinians will be meaningless if it is not built solidly upon human rights, which must be at the heart of any attempt to stop the cycle of war crimes and other gross violations recurring incessantly. Without such a foundation, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to suffer.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Which Weapons Policy for Israel Are You Using Mr. President?

Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf forcefully countered questions about a recent Wall Street Journal article by saying 'there has been no change in policy.' But which policy did she mean? (Photo credit should read Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf forcefully countered questions about a recent Wall Street Journal article by saying ‘there has been no change in policy.’ But which policy did she mean? (Photo credit should read Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the U.S. administration is reviewing Israeli requests for weapons and munitions. The article stated that White House and State Department officials were “increasingly disturbed” that Israel “was using artillery instead of more precision-guided munitions in densely populated areas.”

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Moving On From the Mountain: The Continuing Crisis in Northern Iraq

Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

While extensive media attention has been paid to the plight of those who were under siege on Sinjar Mountain, the broader crisis in north-western Iraq continues.

Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Advisor is currently on the ground, collecting and sharing eyewitness accounts of the crisis. In many ways, the plight of those who were stranded on Sinjar helped focus international attention to the broader crisis.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Does the New York Times Know the Difference Between a Rocket and a Bomb?

Ziad Assam walks on rubble inside an apartment complex where he used to live on August 13, 2014. It was heavily damaged in fighting between Israel and Hamas during four weeks of fighting in northern Gaza strip. (Photo credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Ziad Assam walks on rubble inside the apartment complex where he used to live on August 13, 2014. It was heavily damaged in fighting between Israel and Hamas during four weeks of fighting in northern Gaza strip (Photo credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images).

A prior version of this piece appeared in The Huffington Post.

At the time of writing, the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is set to expire at 5 p.m. EST today. Against the backdrop of Gaza’s destruction, no one can fully predict what is next for Israeli and Palestinian combatants.

In its coverage of the conflict in Gaza and Israel, the New York Times has used a daily chart that risks misleading readers about the firepower involved. The chart in question improperly compares the total Israeli “targets” struck in Gaza to the number of “rockets” launched at Israel by Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

My Brother Went to War in Gaza, I Stayed Back as Amnesty International Israel Director

Palestinians salvage items from the rubble of destroyed buildings in part of Gaza City's al-Tufah neighbourhood as the fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip entered a second day on August 6, 2014. (Photo credit: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinians salvage items from the rubble of destroyed buildings in part of Gaza City’s al-Tufah neighborhood as the fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip entered a second day on August 6, 2014 (Photo credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images).

By Yonatan Gher, Executive Director, Amnesty International Israel

My brother and I are experiencing the current Israel-Gaza conflict quite differently. He is 20, serving out his military service and has been fighting in Gaza. I, on the other hand, am the Executive Director of Amnesty International Israel, an organization that is now heavily involved in documenting and campaigning on apparent crimes perpetrated by both sides of this conflict. I am also a conscientious objector.

My position does not diminish from the fact that I spend my days worried sick about him and other family members in similar situations. When you have such complexity in a family situation, humor is often the best approach, and so we joke sometimes that if the rest of the world heeds Amnesty International’s call for an arms embargo, I’ll be coming for his gun first.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST