Evidence presented as part of a wide-ranging investigation sponsored by the United Nations and released Tuesday shows that the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates waging a war in Yemen — armed and with backing from the United States and the United Kingdom — have likely “perpetrated, and continue to perpetrate, violations and crimes under international law.”
Conducted by the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen, a body of Yemen and regional experts created by the UN Human Rights Council, the report documents how indiscriminate bombing by the Saudi-led coalition has devastated the Yemeni population and details how civilian targets have repeatedly been struck.
“Despite the severity of the situation we continue to see a complete disregard for the people in Yemen,” said Charles Garraway, one of the authors of the report. “This conflict has reached its peak, with no apparent sight of light at the end of the tunnel. It is indeed, a forgotten crisis.”
Coalition air strikes have caused most of the documented civilian casualties. In the past three years, such air strikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities. The Group of Experts has investigated 13 such incidents by interviewing victims, witnesses and other credible sources; analysing satellite imagery, photographs and videos; and visiting sites in the Hudaydah, Sa’dah and Sana’a governorates.
“There is little evidence of any attempt by parties to the conflict to minimize civilian casualties. I call on them to prioritise human dignity in this forgotten conflict,” said Kamel Jendoubi, chairperson of the group of experts.
In addition to the troubling pattern of targeting and bombing civilian infrastructure, the report condemns the ongoing blockade by the coalition, both by sea and by air, of critical supplies into the war-torn and impoverished country:
The coalition has imposed severe naval and air restrictions in Yemen, to varying degrees, since March 2015. There are reasonable grounds to believe that these restrictions imposed by the coalition constitute a violation of the proportionality rule of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the effective closure of Sana’a airport is a violation of international humanitarian law protection for the sick and wounded. Such acts, together with the requisite intent, may amount to international crimes.
In what was clearly a reference to both the US and the UK, the report urges the international community to “refrain from providing arms that could be used in the conflict.”
An effort in the US Senate last week to end US support for the Saudi-led assault, led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), was defeated by Republicans.
Citing the United Nations Human Rights Office, the report estimated that 6,660 civilians have been killed and 10,563 injured in the war, but noted that the real figures are likely to be significantly higher.
On Monday, ahead of this latest report but in the wake of other rebukes by the UN against the coalition’s tactics in the war, Saudi Arabia lashed out by accusing the world body of “bias” against the monarchy in Riyadh.
Also on Monday, the Pentagon offered a tepid statement regarding the ongoing killing of Yemen civilians, including several recent bombings which resulted in the mass slaughter of children.
“Recent events dictated to US military leaders that the situation required special mention and official emphasis during his visit,” Lt Cmdr Rebecca Rebarich, a DOD spokeswoman, toldCNN. “Lt. Gen. Garrett delivered a message of concern regarding the recent civilian casualty incident, and on behalf of the US government continued to urge for a thorough and expedited investigation as well as continued emphasis on the reduction of civilian casualties in the Yemeni campaign.”
But as Win Without War responded:
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) August 27, 2018
Briefly, we wanted to update you on where Truthout stands this month.
To be brutally honest, Truthout is behind on our fundraising goals for the year. There are a lot of reasons why. We’re dealing with broad trends in our industry, trends that have led publications like Vice, BuzzFeed, and National Geographic to make painful cuts. Everyone is feeling the squeeze of inflation. And despite its lasting importance, news readership is declining.
To ensure we stay out of the red by the end of the year, we have a long way to go. Our future is threatened.
We’ve stayed online over two decades thanks to the support of our readers. Because you believe in the power of our work, share our transformative stories, and give to keep us going strong, we know we can make it through this tough moment.
Our fundraising campaign ends tonight at midnight, and we still must raise $14,000. Please consider making a donation before time runs out.