Yemen Civilian Deaths Amount to War Crimes

Yemen Civilian Deaths Amount to War CrimesYemen Civilian Deaths Amount to War Crimes

Airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries in Yemen have left a “bloody train of civilian death,” according to a report from Amnesty International.

The 30-page document investigates eight coalition airstrikes during June and July, which killed 141 people, mainly women and children. More than 4,000 people have died since the bombardments began in late March, BBC reported.

It claims to reveal a pattern of raids targeting heavily-populated sites, including a mosque, a school and a market. In the majority of cases, no military target could be located nearby, it adds.

“The report depicts in harrowing detail the gruesome and bloody trail of death and destruction in Taiz and Aden from unlawful attacks, which may amount to war crimes,” said amnesty’s Donatella Rovera.

She said civilians were forced to dodge crossfire between Houthis and forces loyal to Yemen’s fugitive president Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi on the ground, as well as the Saudi-led airstrikes.

Amnesty called on the United Nations to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate “alleged war crimes.”

The Arab coalition began bombing Yemen in March 26 to restore Hadi to power and repel Houthi forces who took control of the capital Sana’a in September and forced Hadi and his government into exile in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been described as “catastrophic” by UN with 20 million civilians, or 80% of the population, in dire need of aid.

 Hudaydah Struck by Air Raids

Saudi warplanes on Tuesday targeted Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hudaydah, port officials said, destroying cranes and warehouses at a main import hub for critical aid supplies to the country’s north.

There were also clashes further south overnight in Yemen’s third city, Taiz, Arab television stations reported, as local groups opposed to the Houthis attempted to consolidate recent advances to take the city.

The port, which lies almost west of Sana’a, has become a focal point of Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, which the International Committee of the Red Cross said last week the country was “crumbling” under.

Aid groups have previously complained that a coalition naval blockade has stopped relief supplies entering Yemen.

 No Place for Hadi

Hamza al-Houthi, a top Houthi politician and negotiator, said negotiations aimed at reaching a peace deal to end the Yemen conflict are happening, but there are certain redlines that his side will not compromise over.

“Hadi is over. He is out … Hadi has no place in the future of Yemen ... after summoning the [Saudi-led] assault and triggering all the bloodshed.”

He said there are pressures from Hadi and Saudis not to start talks from where it ended, adding that there is an attempt by the Hadi government to turn against the peace deal.

The latest rounds of talks began two weeks ago when Houthi negotiating teams and the country’s one-time ruling party, the General People’s Congress, arrived in the Omani capital Muscat.

They met with UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who presented a seven-point initiative, offering a window for a resolution to Yemen’s devastating conflict.

According to al-Houthi, who is also a senior member of the group’s political bureau, key issues related to reaching a ceasefire were discussed, with the talks centering on the formation of a new “transitional ruling authority.”

“The talks are about the ceasefire and how to make it sustainable,” he said last week. “A second stage will be bringing all political factions to the negotiating table to revive the political process and agree on a new transitional period, all factions without exception.”

The Houthis are also looking into the implementation of the UNSC Resolution 2216, signed in April, which stipulates the withdrawal of armed groups from the cities they seized.