Peace is the Prerequisite. On COVID-19 amid the War in Yemen

By Somaja Al Thawr

VIDC online magazine Spotlight

This article was published in the VIDC online magazine Spotlight 52/June 2020. If you what to receive the quarterly online magazine, invitations and documentations please subscribe here

Further readings and links

Women4Yemen Website - including analysis on the status of women during the war, the impact of COVID-19 on women and demands for a global ceasefire

Abductees’ Mothers Association Website – including the June 2020 report “Mothers Awaiting Justice” on the situation of detainees in Yemen

Amnesty International (24 March 2020) Yemen War: No end in sight. 

Doctors without Borders (10 June 2020) “COVID-19 has made the health system's collapse complete” in Yemen 

UN News (23 March 2020) COVID-19: UN chief calls for global ceasefire to focus on ‘the true fight of our lives’

About the author

Somaja Al Thawr is a political activist, analyst and co- founder of the NGO “SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties” and the Women4Yemen Network where she established and leads the political portfolio. She started the “Initiative for a New Yemen” mobilizing Yemeni youth and community in Germany. Al Thawr is also a member of the Yemeni and European Coalition and has participated in the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Women4Yemen Network aims to achieve peace and stability for Yemen by empowering, advocating and mobilizing women for peace.

Medical examination during the COVID-19 pandemic in Yemen.


Peace is the prerequisite to health, equality and human security. But conflict and war continue unabated even as the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the pandemic is hitting the poorest and most marginalized hardest. In Yemen, the six-year war has left 7 million people acutely malnourished, millions displaced and a health infrastructure in shambles. On 21 September 2014, the post-Arab spring transitional process in Yemen failed (2011-2014) leading the country to a devastating war, which worsened with the intervention of the Arab coalition. The conflict in Yemen started when Houthi militias invaded the Yemeni capital and took control of state institutions and forced the Yemeni president to flee. After that, the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) intervened in March 2015. Yemen then entered into multiple conflicts, the latest of which was the coup attempt by the transitional council with the support of the UAE in the south of Yemen claiming the secession from northern Yemen, which was unified in 1990. The conflict has become a regional conflict between Saudi Arabia and the Emirates on the one hand and Iran on the other. Nonstate actors gained power due to the abscess of the state and the destructor of services, especially the health service. Yemen was already experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and, with COVID-19, this crisis is deepening. Yemeni women now face the double burden of the war and a pandemic. 

The War and Yemeni Women

Due to the ongoing war, Yemeni women face the loss of loved ones, injury, striking poverty, gender-based violence, displacement, arbitrary arrests and financial pressures on an everyday basis. Women have been illegally detained, falsely charged with prostitution and sentenced after grossly unfair trials. Once imprisoned, women are subjected to torture, poor prison conditions and the social stigma associated with their charges and imprisonment.