Sarah Al-Areqi

‘If Only…’ Women’s Resistance and Hope in the Face of Enforced Disappearance in Yemen

December 2022

As the armed conflict in Yemen enters its eighth year, the entire population remains subject to direct and indirect social, economic, and political injustices. At least 233,000 people have been killed, over 4.3 million people have been internally displaced, and 17.4 million people face acute food insecurity.1 There is an absence of accountability for the crimes committed by warring parties, resulting in a ‘pandemic of impunity’ as conflict actors commit serious violations of international law and international humanitarian law. As this paper discusses, one crime that every party to the conflict is involved in is the enforced disappearance of individuals, including journalists, human rights defenders, or anyone who might be perceived as political opposition. And it is the impact of these disappearances, as the social fabric of communities alters, that is particularly shaping the social and political experiences and perspectives of women as those left behind. For those women, gender constitutes a driving force in their resistance, searching for truth, and reclaiming justice. This driving force is accompanied by everyday demands for social change directed at socio-economic and political structural injustices these women have to face and endure, simplified to the phrase ‘If only’. ‘If only’ was the most common phrase across all conversations and is intimately connected to the women’s demands, demands that are often related to the direct experience of the enforced disappearances.

Forced disappearances are nothing new, neither in Yemen nor worldwide. Globally, between 70% and 94% of the victims of enforced disappearances are men.2 Although the exact number of enforced disappearances in Yemen is unknown and most likely heavily underreported, due to the conflict and the dangers of reporting, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have identified hundreds of missing persons. Despite the absence of accurate statistics, one fact remains: hundreds of families, and women in particular, are suffering from the impact of enforced disappearances.3 Women are the majority of those left behind and therefore bear much of the social and economic impact of the disappearances. Scholarship on gender and post-conflict studies indicates that the primary victims are not only the disappeared themselves but also their relatives, in particular women family members.4 The disappearance of men from families often produces vulnerabilities for the girls and women relatives that can constitute a primary harm in their own right, such as loss of family income or social protection.

In their everyday struggle to deal with loss and ambiguity around the future, these women are haunted by the hope that their loved ones are still alive. This is usually accompanied by fear, knowing that in most cases enforced disappearance is accompanied by arbitrary detention and torture, and often ends in death.5 While affected women have varying personal experiences, most of them endure gender inequality, which intersects with heightened psychosocial, psychological, security and economic vulnerabilities.6 This debrief provides an insight into how women are affected by the disappearances of their male relatives. At the same time, using the lens of critical theory and feminist thought,7 this debrief shows that despite powerful systems of repression and stigma created by the enforced disappearances, women do engage in everyday resistance.

Enforced Disappearances in Yemen: Repression, Terror and Socio-Political Injustices

Enforced disappearances are carried out when a person is arrested, or abducted, and their fate is intentionally undisclosed – leaving the person deprived of legal protections. In Yemen, hundreds of Yemenis are detained at official and unofficial detention centres. Disappearances have been carried out by parties to the current conflict including the Saudi/United Arab Emirates (UAE) led coalition,8 Ansar Allah (also known as the Houthis),9 the Internationally Recognized Government of Yemen,10 Islah Party loyalists,11 and UAE forces and UAE-backed groups, including the Southern Transitional Council (STC)12 and the Joint Forces.13 The Yemeni organisation Mwatana for Human Rights has documented 770 cases14 of enforced disappearances between 2016 and 2020. Yet, the real number is very likely significantly higher as most cases remain undocumented. Detainees have been disappeared, tortured, held in solitary confinement, suspended in painful positions, sexually abused, burned, subjected to suspension for prolonged periods of time, beatings, and mock executions, and some have died in detention.15 

Although the intent of enforced disappearances is neither confirmed nor articulated, they are linked to a desire to exercise authority and control. From the immediate perspective, the tactic of enforced disappearances is used by warring parties to strengthen their grip on power by spreading systematic fear; particularly among those who are perceived as opposing the authority of the actor who engages in enforced disappearances.16 There is an interplay or tactic to spread fear between those forcibly disappeared that remain disappeared and the few cases where the disappeared reappear and are publicly trialled. In order to justify and legitimize a system of repression, actors utilize an arsenal of ‘repressive laws’ and/or broad interpretations in order to demonstrate ‘unlawful acts’ by the disappeared and subsequently ‘reappeared’ persons. These interpretations are used to retaliate against human rights defenders, journalists, or those perceived as political opposition, and their relatives, using sweeping charges, in accordance with the Yemeni Penal Code, such as “the intent of violating the independence, unity or territorial integrity of the Republic” or “undertaking an act, with the aim of weakening the armed forces” or “broadcasting false or tendentious news, data, or rumours, or propaganda, with the intent of disturbing public security, causing public fear, or causing harm to public interest”.17 However, in most cases, the only verifiable information is the place where and circumstances under which the forcibly disappeared was last seen alive and free.

In these contexts, enforced disappearance is used as a tool of terror and oppression. As disappearances and show trials underline, the forcibly disappeared and their families often become stigmatized, having difficulty proving that in fact they did not engage in any criminal activity. Even those who do not reappear, as well as their immediate relatives, usually face stigma. Their communities and even extended families might regard them with suspicion; a suspicion that perhaps they were involved in unlawful behaviour after all forcefully incentivizes the silence and obedience of the immediate family members of the disappeared.

Moreover, NGOs and relatives of the disappeared have pointed out that the narrowed process of releasing the enforced disappeared concerns often combatants and not civilian detainees. Yet, enforced disappearances are predominantly civil cases. Within the 2018 Stockholm peace agreement, parties to the conflict agreed to an exchange involving 15,000 detainees; but by October 2020 only 1,056 were exchanged.18 In several areas in Yemen arbitrarily detained persons have been released by local mediators. These efforts are impressive, but they do not sufficiently meet the considerable demands of people who remain forcibly disappeared and also do not address the civilian nature of the disappeared, which results in the tactic of enforced disappearance release channels being used by warring parties to strengthen their grip on power by spreading systematic fear and suspicions.

Beyond community suspicions, the violent power structures at play have become normalized, thus relying – to some extent – not only on violent coercion but also on implicit consent from Yemenis. The legitimating ideology of normalizing what is abnormal says, ‘there is no country or rule of law’, ‘we are in a state of war’, ‘for the good and protection of your family members, move on with your life’, ‘ignore (suppress) those who keep asking for change, resistance or reclaim justice’. Consequently, trouble, exploitation, oppression, and deep discontent are seen as inevitable by many Yemenis. This masks that the injustices Yemenis face are a manifestation of the social, security, economic, and political systems that in turn are shaped by ruling elites.

In a context where there are those who benefit from societal structures and conditions, control is exercised firstly by overt force, including the disappearances as they are a key tool to suppress and silence opponents and their relatives and create fear and terror. Yet, only a small layer of authority is exercised by overt force and it could even be argued that resorting to violence constitutes a failure to exercise true authority. Secondly, control is constituted by the way the situation becomes normalized and stigmatized. And thirdly, deeply embedded social inequalities and injustices uphold power structures in the first place. However, these structures and conditions also produce bottom-up resistance against system-maintaining repression. Crucially, the everyday acts of resistance by Yemeni women who are affected by enforced disappearances demonstrate this.

Everyday Resistance of Yemeni Women

The research is based on in-depth interviews. The interviews conducted for this debrief started with one question: “Can you tell me more about your story?”. The question was a simple invitation for the women to openly narrate and express past events as well as daily struggles – as the wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters of the disappeared. The interviews explore the link between women’s personal experiences and resistance based on anonymous first-hand accounts from female relatives of the disappeared. The women interviewed are from different geographical areas, including Sana’a, al-Hodeidah, Aden, Raymah, Taiz, Ibb, and Marib, and diverging socio-economic backgrounds. Despite these differences, the interviews showed strong commonalities in how the women view their situation and how they resist. Resistance is here understood not as violent opposition, but rather as daily acts of endurance, acts against gender norms, speaking up and showing solidarity, which not only go against violent suppression but are also directed against the stigma and the normalising ideology and social inequalities. The discussion to understand the linkages between vulnerabilities and resistance among the women’s individual experiences flows around overlapping themes.

Resisting Through Enduring Social Injustice

The stories shared by the women make clear that they are aware that they not only endure the individual injustice against them and their loved ones but that they are facing multi-layered and intersecting social structures of injustice. The interviewed women frequently mentioned exclusion from education, financial resources, and wider society. The uncertain legal status of the disappeared (who are not considered officially alive or dead) compounds the family’s financial insecurity, as a wife or a daughter often cannot access family assets, inheritance and bank accounts held in the disappeared man’s name or social benefits reserved for wives of the disappeared. As Ahlam, in her 40s, from Raymah said:

“I am the first wife to my husband who was forcibly disappeared five years ago and is the father of my eight children. I could not finish my education. If only I was able to finish my education after I got married. […] As for now, I am struggling financially as I would like to provide good education for my children. […] I always tried to maintain myself as a figure of strength for my children, now as the economic situation is deteriorating and the burden of debts, I feel that I cannot breathe.”

What Ahlam clearly endures, along with other participants, is the exclusion from financial and educational opportunities, which exacerbates the victimisation caused by the enforced disappearance of her husband. Yet, the vast majority of the women not only endured but also reached a point where they became politically conscious of societal exploitation and oppression. Many of these experiences include deep discontent that goes beyond a focus on one party or actor, as elaborated by Muna, in her 40s, from al-Hodeidah:

“I started searching after my father when I became seventeen. My father was forcibly disappeared in 1982. […] Every single day I would wake up to the idea of discovering the truth, and finding him, but again sleep with the pain that it was not that day. […] I spent my whole life looking for the truth. I have tried to reach different actors to disclose the fate of my father. The ruling state might change, however, they all implicitly agree to grant full impunity to all.”

The awareness becomes stronger as a result of gender-based patriarchy,19 which is deeply embedded in Yemeni society. It manifests itself in socially constructed gender norms, unequal access to political power, and a lack of economic and social mobility that women have to endure on a daily basis. Thus, coercive power to silence families is partially established by utilising gender-based power dynamics, which fuels bottom-up resistance. Women must endure being helpless and side-lined when enquiring and searching for their loved ones. This was highlighted by Rana, in her 50s, from Aden:

I come from a very vocal family where we were raised to speak up for our rights, and stand up for any injustices. In 2016, my brother went missing. By the time we came across those allegedly responsible for his disappearance, I could not utter a word as I was forced to keep silent by the fear of harming my other male relatives in the family.[…] If only I was able to search after him […] After my male relatives communicated with the responsible actor, we were told that this might be a ‘mistake’. How could a forcibly disappeared person for five years be a mistake?!”

Overall, the interviewed women not only endure direct victimisation but also socio-political discrimination. Endurance itself is an act of resistance, as it means not giving in to repression but instead keeping their lives and families together. Furthermore, the women are politically aware and able to name those injustices. Yet, this can go even further. Breaking silence in the face of the stigmatization of the disappeared and their family and trying to maintain the disappeared’s positive legacy are also forms of resistance enacted by women.

Resisting Silence Through Memorialization

Beyond the endurance and political consciousness of personal and social injustice, women tend to seek justice by reclaiming a good memory of the disappeared, often where their image or memory is socially tarnished. This breaks the imposed silence around enforced disappearances, and works against social stigma. The consequences vary in terms of the steps of confronting a trauma, starting with ‘denial’, ‘avoiding confronting the situation or even discussing it’, or suffering from an ‘ambiguous loss’.20 The majority of the interviewees explained that they deal with insomnia, anxiety, constant stress, and fear of the unpredictable. They kept the process of memorialization alive, whether for themselves or within the family and community. The significance of this lies in the way in which it aids building missing and distorted bonds between the forcibly disappeared and their children or family members. Salma, in her 20s, from Aden explains:

“The wound is untreated and bleeding. […] My father was a decent man who has spent his life working and is well-respected by our community. On a daily basis, we would gather as a family and talk about his ‘Mahasen’ […But…] I can see it in the eyes of my relatives that they are staining his reputation, which is emotionally exhausting.”

It is part of Yemeni culture to talk about a person’s ‘Mahasen’ (their good manners, good deeds, good legacy) during their funeral, as a way to relieve the family’s grief. Here, however, it functions not only as a grief ritual but also serves as resisting the stigmatization attached to the enforced disappearance by some relatives, by building a positive link to the family and community.

Lack of grief rituals and complex family dynamics may further exacerbate coping with the loss, particularly when it is mixed with the stigma attached to the disappearance. The women are impacted by the ‘boundary ambiguity’, which occurs in the relatives of missing persons and blurs the line between hope and grief occurring as a result of ambiguous loss, as described by Husnah, in her 40s, from Sana’a:

“I keep reminding my children that their father has not done anything wrong and he was a decent person. You know, the community would stigmatize a person who did not even have the right to defend his absence. […] I have heard that he might have been a ‘threat’ and he is ‘daeshy’.21 None of these claims are real. If only our community could be more supportive. My children… I need to keep their heads-up and attached to the remaining image of their father.”

Women tend to resist the physical absence of the disappeared, as well as to protect their legacy. Partially, to maintain the connection with their children as well as the connection between family members, which could be distorted as a result of the direct stigmatization. Being conscious of wrongdoing against them and the rightfulness of their stance allows the women to come together in solidarity.

Resisting Through a Sense of Rightfulness and Solidarity

During large-scale human rights violations and atrocities, uniting around justice and fairness can be a source of resistance, by organizing networks and solidarity groups. This process can extend beyond individuals to bring empathy towards ‘others’ who are becoming part of us, who have experienced similar victimizations. This can form a ‘victim’-based network of solidarity. Suaad, in her 40s, from Aden explains:

“I had to search after my husband, who was forcibly disappeared in 2016, in different detention facilities whereby occasionally I was verbally and physically harassed, which was emotionally exhausting and is not right. […] When I first visited the detention centers, I was not equipped with the suitable language to reveal the fate of my husband. By that time, I got to know a civic space which could support me being equipped with the human rights approach and terms. Now, I am supporting other women whose relatives went missing. I accompany them to detention facilities and make sure they are protected. […] This activism gives me the strength to carry on.”

As the conflict creates uncertainty, a security vacuum, and limited protection pathways, men and women tend to seek tangible and intangible connections. This was not only revealed in the conversations with Suaad but also with others, where women exercised truth telling and reclaimed justice in ways tied to cultural or religious symbolism. This belief pushed the women to include others, as they had realized for themselves the need of protection for other women. As Hafidah, a representative of Abductees’ Mothers Association (AMA), in her 40s, from Sana’a said:

Allah ho Al-adel22. […] Knowing that is what keeps me pushing to seek the truth and justice through Abductees’ Mothers Association.”

AMA23 is the most prominent group seeking collective justice for the enforced disappeared and their relatives. It is a Yemeni human rights association that was founded during the conflict and consists of mothers, wives, and families of the abducted and disappeared persons. Hafidah added:

We want to make our presence felt, we vigorously resist in the face of the disappearance of our sons, brothers and husbands. Our strength is coming from rightful human rights based activism.”

Being aware that you are on the right path can be a driving force for group solidarity. Acknowledging and sympathising with others who become part of our daily resistance is an invitation to victim-based group interventions. AMA itself has reclaimed justice by reporting and documenting cases of enforced disappearance and also carrying out political activism through public reporting and statements as well as public protests and meetings with local, international, and regional decision makers.

With the personal endurance, the memorialization, and the deep realization of justice and solidarity these women have highlighted, we see overlapping forms of resistance. These forms of resistance are largely the result of existing injustices which have been exacerbated by the conditions of war and conflict, but they manifest themselves in many aspects that seize on intersecting elements of, for example, gender, region, and socio-economic status. Initially, the women interviewed tended to highlight the victimization of the affected women; however, hidden behind the individual injustice we can unpack the multiple layers of intersecting injustices and inequalities. The narratives of the women revealed how women can become politically conscious of their social reality, how women implicitly and explicitly resist in their everyday lives, act in solidarity, and conceptualize and voice demands for justice.

Intersecting Injustices Faced By Women Can Be Resisted

Female relatives of the enforced disappeared face multi-layered social injustices which require social change. Yet often these multi-layered injustices are unrelated and focus on the larger socio-economic and political structural injustices these women have to face and endure.

If only they had the chance of having a formal education; if only they had the chance to choose their partners; if only they had access to equal financial resources; if only they were not silenced; if only they knew the right pathways to achieve justice; if only they were politically empowered and had access to mental health and protection services; if only their extended family and community were supportive; if only the fate of the disappeared was disclosed; if only women were able to communicate with their loved ones; if only they got the bodies of their loved ones back.

To fully understand the women’s perspective, the interviews allowed for a lot of space for them to talk about how they feel, in a private, personal space; specifically, on the anguish experienced by the families of the disappeared, not knowing the fate of their relatives, in addition to the social, economic, and gendered impact on families and communities. Women face intersecting injustices that go beyond them being relatives of the enforced disappeared. Society is structured around gender-based discrimination. Laws, policies, and customs hinder the full realization of the human rights of women and limit their active participation in aspects of public and political life. The social and economic impact of disappearances burden women and, in turn, render women and their children more vulnerable to exploitation and social marginalization.

Women of the families of the enforced disappeared and their communities are often portrayed as too fragile to proceed with their lives. This overlooks the potential powerful resistance of individuals within their private space, and it ignores the pre-existing power structure women have to endure. This paper shows the resistance defined as everyday resistance that manifests itself in enduring and continuing to live, in speaking up, in acting in solidarity with others, in searching for the truth, and sometimes to openly engage in political activism. While the latter is often focused upon, it is the everyday resistance in simple things, in thoughts, in finding a source of income, in supporting their family, that equally should count as political activism, recognizing that the personal is political.

Recommendations and Way Forward

The women who contributed their story to this research debrief also elaborated on recommendations for acknowledging their rights, searching for truth, and reclaiming justice; NGO representatives have also contributed to these recommendations.

First, women relatives of the disappeared must be empowered by the civil society space, including national and international non-governmental organizations and the United Nations (UN) agencies, to actively participate in processes for seeking justice, including truth telling, punitive and restorative justice processes, and reparation processes that affirm and restore dignity to victims, and lead to hope of lasting change. Women relatives of the disappeared need to have more knowledge of these processes and also be supported financially and technically to form their own community networks and victims groups.

Second, for immediate action, due to the unclear status of the disappeared person, women are often unable to access adequate resources, for example through the disappeared male relative’s family assets. There is a need for simple, accessible programs and assistance for women to overcome social inequalities, by Yemeni state institutions, the civil society space, including national and international non-governmental organization, and UN agencies. These processes should be tailored via consultation with relatives of the enforced disappeared and their communities to prevent protection risks, re-traumatization, and communal rejection.

Third, as part on an ongoing protection response, women whose relatives have suffered enforced disappearance usually suffer from prolonged grief disorder for not having emotional closure, which results in facing higher prolonged grief disorder symptom severity associated with ambiguous loss, significant PTSD symptoms, and perceptions of low levels of social support. Therefore, psychosocial and psychological mental health interventions that respond to women and their specific experiences are crucial and need to be supplied by Yemeni state institutions, the civil society space, including national and international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies. Here, it must be stressed that in the whole of Yemen there were no more than 59 psychiatrists in 2020 – or one for every half a million people.

Fourth, long-term sustainable social change within the Yemeni state institutions should address the social, economic, and political injustices that these women have suffered and ensure that women have access to adequate opportunities, including employment, political participation, education.

Fifth, enforced disappearance is a direct result of impunity. Thus, the international community, including the UN’s Member States and its agencies, bodies, and experts, such as the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UN Special Procedures, should support efforts to achieve accountability. They should urgently intervene, including demand the release of all those forcibly disappeared, in a manner that guarantees their dignity, safety, and security. Moreover, Member States should support the establishment of an international criminally focused investigation body to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyze evidence, prepare case files, and identify victims of grave violations and crimes, including those arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared in Yemen. Such a body could lay the ground for eventual prosecutions and punishment of individuals responsible for enforced disappearances and related international crimes, such as torture.

Sixth, in addition to criminal accountability, UN Member States, bodies, agencies, experts, and others should support victim-centered approaches to justice, including restorative justice approaches, reparative programs, and mechanisms that emphasize truth-telling and information-sharing with families. Restorative justice is more conducive to reconciliation and peacebuilding when focused on victims’ needs and their relationship with the offender’s communities, rather than only on focusing on the offender’s punishment. The degree to which programs and measures are effective in addressing enforced disappearances, including by having a lasting impact on victims and contributing to long-term peace, depends on whether they respond to victims’ specific experiences and needs, including women who have been particularly impacted by enforced disappearances. Symbolic reparations and apology are also important, in order to facilitate grieving and the healing process. Pre-existing structures and community approaches must be acknowledged to lead and evaluate the justice process. Further, there is a need for simple, accessible ‘material reparation’ programs and assistance for women to overcome social inequalities. These processes should be tailored via consultation with relatives of the enforced disappeared and their communities to prevent protection risks, re-traumatization, and communal rejection.

Finally, in other contexts, the UN, Member States, or the impacted state or even civil society have sought accountability by setting up investigative truth commissions or other mechanisms to uncover the whereabouts of the disappeared. For Yemen, such a commission could have a mandate to examine enforced disappearances, to investigate uncovering the fate of the disappeared, and undertake exhumations, and to share information with families and facilitate the return of identified bodies to families. This approach should be done in cooperation with parties to the conflict and should take into consideration gender-sensitivity and witness protection programs when gathering women’s testimonies and also ensure the impartiality and independence of the truth commission.

Sarah Al-Areqi joined the Yemen Policy Center as an Associate Fellow in 2022. Her research focuses on issues related to protection, victimhood, and reconciliation. Sarah built her career as a specialist for leading protection and reconciliation programs for various international organisations, including Danish Refugee Council, over nine years. She has managed a variety of protection projects in Yemen, Iraq, and South Sudan.

German Federal Foreign Office
Kamilia Al-Eriani,
Mareike Transfeld,
Jatinder Padda
Enas El-Torky (Arabic)
Abductees’ Mothers Association
  1. United Nations,  “UN humanitarian office puts Yemen war dead at 233,000, mostly from ‘indirect causes’,” UN News Global Perspective Human Stories, (2020): UN humanitarian office puts Yemen war dead at 233,000, mostly from ‘indirect causes’[]
  2. ICTJ, “Overlooked and Invisible: The Women of Enforced Disappearances,” The International Center for Transitional Justice, (2015): Overlooked and Invisible: The Women of Enforced Disappearances.[]
  3. Mwatana for Human Rights, “In the Darkness: Abusive Detention, Disappearance and Torture in Yemen’s Unofficial Prison,” Mwatana for Human Rights, (2020): In the Darkness: Abusive Detention, Disappearance and Torture in Yemen’s Unofficial Prisons. The Mothers of Abductees Association, “Mothers in front of the Prison’s Gates,” The Abductees’ Mothers Association, n of (2018):  Mothers Association Report. Human Rights Watch, “Yemen: Saudi Forces Torture, ‘Disappear’ Yemenis At Least 5 Detainees from al-Mahrah Illegally Transferred to Saudi Arabia’ has documented At Least 5 Detainees from al-Mahrah Illegally Transferred to Saudi Arabia,”  Human Rights Watch, (2020): Yemen: Saudi Forces Torture, ‘Disappear’ Yemenis | Human Rights Watch. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, ”Violations against civilians, including journalists, human rights defenders and academics in Yemen’s, including enforced disappearance and Torture,” The Journal of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, (2021): Violations against civilians, including journalists, human rights defenders and academics in Yemen – Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.[]
  4. Yadav, Stacy. Yemen in the Shadow of Transition: Pursuing Justice Amid War, Oxford University Press, 2022, 24-25.[]
  5. Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, “Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014,” United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner,  no of (2020): A/HRC/45/6 ( Mwatana for Human Rights, “In the Darkness: Abusive Detention, Disappearance and Torture in Yemen’s Unofficial Prison,” Mwatana for Human Rights, no of (2020): In the Darkness: Abusive Detention, Disappearance and Torture in Yemen’s Unofficial Prisons.[]
  6. Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, “Struggles of Women in the Face of Enforced Disappearance,” Missing Persons Global Response, (2019): Struggles of Women in the Face of Enforced Disappearance | Missing Persons Platform.[]
  7. Marcuse, Peter, “The need for critical theory in everyday life: Why the tea parties have popular support,” City 14.4, no of (2010): 355-369: The need for critical theory in everyday life: Why the tea parties have popular support.[]
  8. The Saudi/UAE-led coalition is a military coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia. It was formed in 2015 to launch military operations against Ansar Allah Houthi/Saleh forces that the coalition claimed the intervention is to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government.[]
  9. Ansar Allah group (also known as the Houthis) is an armed group backed by Iran that emerged from Saada in North Yemen in the 1990s, which carried out what claimed to be a second revolution that recovered in 2011 and carried out a coup against the government of Yemen in 2014. []
  10. The International Recognized Government of Yemen which refers to the governing body firstly headed by former president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who was elected through a one-man election in 2012 and who replaced former President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh on February 25, 2012. Since April 2022, the newly formed presidential council is heading the internationally recognized government after the removal of the former president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.[]
  11. Al-Islah party is the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, was officially formed in 1990, after the unification of  Yemen in 1990. Al-Islah was the largest party in the Saleh regime, and its formation is linked to the religious movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Islah party  was strengthened by the 2012-2014 political transition headed by Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi; it was the dominant force within internationally recognized institutions.[]
  12. The Southern Transitional Council is a political organisation,  backed by the UAE, and was formed in 2017  by Aden’s former governor, Aidrous al-Zubaydi to represent the southern secessionist group.[]
  13. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Joint Statement, “Enforced disappearances in Yemen as a direct result of impunity”, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, (2022): Mwatana for Human Rights, “In the Darkness: Abusive Detention, Disappearance and Torture in Yemen’s Unofficial Prison,” Mwatana for Human Rights, (2020): In the Darkness: Abusive Detention, Disappearance and Torture in Yemen’s Unofficial Prisons.[] Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, “Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014,” United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, (2020): A/HRC/45/6 ([]
  14. Mwatana for Human Rights, “In the Darkness: Abusive Detention, Disappearance and Torture in Yemen’s Unofficial Prison,” Mwatana for Human Rights, (2020): In the Darkness: Abusive Detention, Disappearance and Torture in Yemen’s Unofficial Prisons.[]
  15. Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, “Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014,” United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, (2020): A/HRC/45/6 ([]
  16. Al-Eriani, Kamilia, “The Ghostly Politics Haunting Yemen.” Current History 121, no. 839 (2022): The Ghostly Politics Haunting Yemen | Current History | University of California Press  p.342. Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, “Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014,” United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner,  (2019): A/HRC/42/CRP.1 ([]
  17. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, ”Violations against civilians, including journalists, human rights defenders and academics in Yemen”, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, no of (2021):  Violations against civilians, including journalists, human rights defenders and academics in Yemen – Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. Republican Decree for Law No 12 for the Year 1994 Concerning Crimes and Penalties, n of (1994):  Republican Decree Law No 12 1994 Concerning Crimes and Pen– ( Articles (125), (126), (135) and (136) of the Yemeni Penal Code of 1994 on Crimes and Penalties provide[]
  18. OSEGY, “Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General- on the Exchange of Detainees in Yemen,” Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, (2020): Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General – on the exchange of detainees in Yemen[]
  19. World Economic Forum, “Global Gender Gap Report 2021”, World Economic Forum, no of (2021): Global Gender Gap Report 2021 | World Economic Forum. Yemen ranks second to last in the world in terms of gender equality.[]
  20. Pauline Boss, “Ambiguous loss: A complicated type of grief when loved ones disappear,” Bereavement Care, no of (2014) pp.63-69. Ambiguous loss: a complicated type of grief when loved ones disappear: Bereavement Care. ‘Ambiguous loss’ was firstly introduced by the American researcher, Pauline Boss, in the late 1970s as she was studying the effects of grief-related loss on the families of war soldiers who disappeared or went missing in action. “Studies indicate that relatives of missing persons suffer from higher psychological distress than bereaved persons with confirmed losses, particularly in terms of symptom severity of depression and prolonged grief reactions. Research on factors contributing to these mental health outcomes suggests an elevated risk for exposure to traumatic events and lack of social support among relatives of missing persons.” []
  21. Perceived as a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In this context, it is more related to organized terrorist groups and not an identified one specifically.[]
  22. Allah (God) is justice.[]
  23. AMA has reported and documented cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance and has also carried out political activism through public reporting and statements as well as public protests. AMA effectively reaches different decision making bodies, such as ICRC, OHCHR, and the Office of the Special Envoy to Yemen. As a result, AMA has managed to get 950 enforced disappearances, by all parties to the conflict, released (Source: Interview).[]
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