A monthly summary from the Yemen Data Project of the Saudi-led coalition’s air war in Yemen found January 2022 was the most violent month for civilians since 2016.
According to the data, 139 civilians were killed by Saudi air raids, and another 287 were wounded. It was the highest number of civilian casualties recorded in a single month since October 2016.
The deadliest air raid of the month hit a migrant detention facility in Sadaa on January 21st, which killed at least 91 civilians and wounded at least 237. The prison bombing was preceded by Saudi airstrikes on telecommunication infrastructure that also killed civilians and caused nationwide internet outages.
Yemen Data Project said the internet outage “had widespread impact on civilian communications and media coverage in another blow to accountability. Within hours the Saudi-led coalition carried out one of the deadliest bombings of the seven-year air campaign.”
Other major incidents include air raids on residential areas of the Maain district in the capital Sanaa, which killed 14 civilians, including five women and a child. Three separate airstrikes on vehicles and buses killed at least 17 civilians, including three children. Saudi airstrikes also hit hospitals, a food truck, and a food storage unit.
The Saudi escalation came after the Houthis launched missile and drone attacks against the UAE, a response to Abu Dhabi’s role in the war on Yemen that has been raging since 2015. The UAE likes to downplay its role in the war, but Abu Dhabi’s support for militants on the ground in Yemen has brought the Saudi-backed government recent success on the battlefield against the Houthis.
The US has responded to the Houthi attacks by escalating its role in the war and is sending a warship and F-22 fighter jets to the UAE. This support has been framed as “defensive” in nature. But again, the Houthis wouldn’t be attacking their neighbors if not for the Saudi-led war, which is only able to continue due to US support. Experts agree that if the US stopped servicing Saudi warplanes, Riyadh’s air force would quickly be grounded.