UN-backed panel blames all sides for ‘war crimes’ in Yemen

UNITED NATIONS: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and others in Yemen may have committed war crimes, UN Invest­igators said in a new report on Tuesday.

In their first report, a team of UN-mandated investigators said they had “reasonable grounds to believe that the parties to the armed conflict in Yemen have committed a substantial number of violations of international humanitarian law”.

Many of these violations may amount to “war crimes”, the report said, pointing to widespread arbitrary detention, rape, torture and the recruitment of children to take part in hostilities.

Kamel Jendoubi, who heads the UN’s so-called Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts, said the investigators had identified a number of alleged perpetrators.

“A confidential list of these individuals will be presented today to the (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights,” he told journalists in Geneva.

The devastating conflict in Yemen has left nearly 10,000 people dead since March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition intervened to fight Houthi rebels closing in on the last bastion of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government.

The UN human rights office said on Tuesday that some 6,660 civilians were among the dead, while more than 10,500 had been injured.

The UN has, meanwhile, described the situation in Yemen as world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN expert group, which was created by the UN Human Rights Council last September and which needs that body’s permission next month to continue its work, detailed a long line of abuses committed by all parties to the conflict.

The report concluded that “coalition air strikes have caused most of the documented civilian casualties”, pointing to a large number of strikes on residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and medical facilities.

The report said there were “serious concerns about the targeting process applied by the coalition”, pointing out that in many cases there were no apparent military targets in the vicinity of the attacks.

The report covers the period from September 2014 to June 2018, and does not address the latest series of deadly strikes that have killed dozens of children in rebel-held areas and sparked international outrage.

The coalition has not confirmed or denied it carried out two air raids last Thursday that the UN said killed at least 26 children and four women south of the flashpoint rebel-held city of Hodeida.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018



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