Responding to the deaths of at least 85 people and over 300 injuries in last night’s stampede at a Ramadan charity event at a school in the old city of Sana’a, Grazia Careccia, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:
“There must be justice for the victims of this horrific yet preventable incident which cost so many people, many believed to be children, their lives.
“The Huthi de facto authorities must promptly, thoroughly, independently, impartially, transparently, and effectively, investigate how a charity event descended into a disaster that killed dozens and injured hundreds more. Suspected perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials. Victims and their families must be provided with access to justice and effective remedies. The authorities must immediately refrain from any form of interference in the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians.
This is yet another cruel blow to the people of Yemen who are already bearing the brunt of eight years of armed conflict.Grazia Careccia, Amnesty International
“This is yet another cruel blow to the people of Yemen who are already bearing the brunt of eight years of armed conflict; over two-thirds of the population needs humanitarian assistance and child malnutrition rates are alarming. The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the lack of accountability for the grave violations of international law committed by all parties to the conflict.”
Hundreds of people gathered on Wednesday evening (19 April) for the charity event at the Maeen School in Bab al-Yemen district of Sana’a which was organized for residents to receive cash donations of 5,000 Yemeni rials (around $8 US) distributed by local merchants during the last days of Ramadan. Two organizers of the event were detained, and an investigation has been launched, according to a statement by the Huthi-run Ministry of Interior.
Some media outlets attributed the cause of the stampede to gunfire shot into the air by armed members of the Huthi de facto authorities striking an electrical cable leading to an explosion. However, the Huthi-run Ministry of Interior blamed the cause of the stampede on the ‘random distribution of sums of money by some transfers without coordination with the Ministry of Interior and without organization.’
Sana’a has been under rebel Huthi control since 2015 and parties to the conflict continue to restrict movement and aid delivery. In 2022, there was an alarming increase in attacks on aid workers and violence against humanitarian personnel assets and facilities by parties to the conflict.