Cluster Munitions Used in Saudi-Led Airstrikes

Cluster Munitions Used in Saudi-Led AirstrikesCluster Munitions Used in Saudi-Led Airstrikes

Credible evidence indicates that the Saudi-led coalition used banned cluster munitions supplied by the United States in airstrikes against Houthi forces in Yemen, Human Rights Watch said Sunday. Cluster munitions pose long-term dangers to civilians and are prohibited by a 2008 treaty adopted by 116 countries, though not by Saudi Arabia or the US.

Photographs, video, and other evidence have emerged since mid-April 2015 indicating that cluster munitions have been used during recent weeks in coalition airstrikes in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, the Houthi stronghold bordering Saudi Arabia. HRW has established through analysis of satellite imagery that the weapons appeared to land on a cultivated plateau, within 600 meters of several dozen buildings in four to six village clusters, the Human Rights Watch said in a report.

“Saudi-led cluster munition airstrikes have been hitting areas near villages, putting local people in danger,” said Steve Goose, arms director at the HRW. “These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members – and the supplier, the US – are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians.”

A video posted on April 17 shows numerous objects with parachutes descending from the sky. The video zooms out to show a mid-air detonation and several black smoke clouds from other detonations. HRW established the location, using satellite imagery analysis, as al-Shaaf in Saqeen, in the western part of Saada governorate.

Based on several credible photographs, HRW also identified the remnants of two CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons manufactured by the US and supplied to Saudi Arabia and UAE in recent years.

  Call on UN

Houthi forces called on the United Nations on Saturday to seek an end to Saudi Arabian airstrikes against them that they described as “blatant aggression against the country.”

“We want to emphasize the grave and tragic situation that comes in the light of the continued Saudi blatant aggression on our country and our people,” said the Houthis’ foreign relations official Hussein al-Ezzi, in a letter addressed to the UN secretary general.

“We look forward to your active humanitarian role ... to put an end to the Saudi aggression against our people without any justification or reason,” the letter said, listing a number of areas and damage the strikes had caused so far.

The UN says the conflict in Yemen has killed 600 people, wounded 2,200 and displaced 100,000.

  Infrastructure Collapsing

Key infrastructure in war-torn Yemen, including water supplies, health services and telecommunications, are on the verge of breaking down due to a major fuel shortage, a UN official said Saturday.

“The services still available in the country in terms of health, water, food are quickly disappearing because fuel is no longer being brought into the country,” Johannes van der Klaauw said.

“Without fuel, hospitals can’t work, ambulances can’t go out. You can’t have the water system working because water has to be pumped. The telecommunication network risks shutting down. This is all extremely preoccupying. If something is not done in the next few days in terms of bringing fuel and food into the country, Yemen is going to come to a complete stand-still,” he warned.

The official said an arms embargo against Houthis was also having an impact on the delivery of humanitarian supplies. “We have the ships which can dock into the ports, we have the aircraft. However, the arms embargo has unintended consequences for humanitarian aid.”