SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 20, 2014

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Other

Institution(s):Al-Iman University | Sana'a University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Yemen

New or Ongoing:New Incident

During the weekend of September 20, 2014, the ongoing conflict in Yemen between armed Houthi rebels and government forces led to the closure and occupation of two universities in the capital city of Sana’a.
On Saturday, September 20, mortar shells reportedly landed on the campus of Sana’a University, and, although no injuries were reported, officials ordered the university closed and cancelled classes until further notice.
Separately, Houthi rebels reportedly seized Sana’a’s Al-Iman University after several days of fighting on and around the university’s campus; earlier in the week, government forces had reportedly ordered the university closed and had taken it over for military use.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about attacks on universities and military occupation or use of university facilities. All parties to military conflict should avoid occupation, use or targeting of educational facilities, including universities. Where a party to a conflict suspects that a civilian facility, such as a university building, is being used for military purposes, that party has affirmative obligations to take every practicable action to verify such use before initiating action against the facility and to make reasonable efforts to avoid collateral harms to civilians, including members of university communities. Failure to observe these obligations may violate international humanitarian law standards. Regardless of military justification, such actions can impair internationally recognized human rights, undermine university autonomy and academic freedom, and damage the ability of universities to serve their educational, social and public functions, including imparting the skills and knowledge necessary for respectful discourse, understanding and peace-building.