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The group of international and regional experts for Yemen denounces that the air strikes of the Saudi coalition hit weddings and burials, markets, civil ships and sanitary facilities.
In the civil conflict, the pro-government forces and the Houthi rebels, as well as the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, could have committed war crimes, according to a United Nations investigation published on Tuesday (28.08.2018).
In a statement, the chairman of the group of experts for Yemen, Kamel Jendoubi, stressed the lack of evidence that the parties to the conflict try to prevent civilian casualties, so it demands that those responsible respond to an independent court.
Conflict intensified with intervention of Arab coalition
The Yemeni Sunni government and its allies – led by Saudi Arabia – have been trying for years to defeat the Shiite Shiite rebels, whom Iran supports. In 2014, the Houthis took control of the capital Sana’a and other parts of the country. The conflict intensified in March 2015 with the intervention of the Arab coalition, supported by the United States.
The group of experts, created by the UN Human Rights Council in 2017, investigates the violations and abuses committed in Yemen since September 2014.
Bombings have caused the majority of civilian deaths
“Individuals in the Government and the coalition, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, may have carried out attacks that violate the principle of distinction, proportionality and precaution and may amount to war crimes,” the group said.
According to his report, air strikes by the Arab coalition have caused the majority of civilian deaths as a direct result of the bombings “against residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, prisons, civil ships and even medical centers.”
Recruitment of eight-year-old children
The pro-government forces and the coalition may also have committed war crimes for having resorted to “cruel treatment and torture, degrading acts, rapes and the recruitment of children under the age of 15 or having used them as an active part in hostilities.” The parties to the conflict would have even forced children as young as eight years old to fight.
Experts believe that rebels may also be responsible for the deaths of civilians due to the use of ammunition for fragmentation in the fighting within the cities, something that should be further investigated.
The United Nations estimates that between March 2015 and August 2018 some 6,600 civilians were killed and more than 10,500 injured. “The real numbers are possibly much higher,” the experts say in their report.