Six months into the Saudi-led military offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen, civilians suffer most.
Human rights groups found ample evidence of indiscriminate airstrikes by the coalition, which might well amount to war crimes. Amnesty reports:
“The evidence gathered reveals a pattern of strikes targeting heavily populated areas including civilian homes, a school, a market and a mosque. In the majority of cases no military target could be located nearby.
One resident describing the aftermath of an attack on a residential compound inhabited by power plant workers in Mokha on 24 July said “corpses and heads” were scattered everywhere “engulfed by fire and ashes”, comparing the sight to a scene from “judgement day”. Another local resident told Amnesty International he continued to be haunted by the memories of walking through the “pools of blood and severed limbs” of more than 20 victims.”
The UN counted 2,355 killed and 4,862 wounded civilians between March and September 2015. The High Commissioner on Human Rights also criticized the coalition for blocking Yemen’s sea ports, worsening the country’s humanitarian catastrophe. On October 7, media reports suggest, at least 28 were killed during an airstrike on a wedding party. A week before, a similar incident had left as many as 130 guests of another wedding party dead. In April, 2015, the coalition targeted a warehouse containing humanitarian aid supplies. The charity Oxfam ran the warehouse and said it shared the location of the site with the Saudi-led coalition.
The pain the conflict has inflicted upon the civilian population of Yemen is terrifying, as these numbers by UNICEF show:
Six months of unremitting violence in Yemen have left at least 505 children dead, 702 injured and more than 1.7 million at risk of malnutrition, UNICEF said today. Across the country, nearly 10 million children – 80 per cent of the country’s under-18 population – need urgent humanitarian assistance.
More than 1.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
The number of children under 5 at risk of severe acute malnutrition has tripled in 2015, with 537,000 children now at risk, compared to 160,000 children before the conflict.
Almost twice as many children under 5, a total of 1.2 million children, are projected to suffer from moderate acute malnutrition this year, compared to 690,000 before the crisis.
The Saudi-led air campaign, resembling a succession of shocking atrocities, raises questions for the United States. Without the logistical support from the US – which includes refueling fighter jets – the airstrikes, which are evidently conducted with blatant disregard for humanitarian law, would not be possible. When Human Rights Watch investigated a series of incidents in which the coalition used internationally banned cluster bombs, the organization found they had been supplied to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by a US company.
The military intervention in Yemen has caused a bloodbath and created a humanitarian disaster, and with the depth and extent of the US involvement, our government has made itself complicit in the crimes that are occurring. It is high time for the Obama administration to end backing this war and urge our allies to respect international law and protect civilians.