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Amnesty Slams Deliberate Attacks by Saudi-Led Coalition on Yemen Schools

11 December 2015 23:17


Saudi coalition forces carried out a series of airstrikes targeting schools that were still in use, in violation of international humanitarian law, and hampering access to education for thousands of Yemen’s children, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published Friday.

The coalition forces are armed by states including the USA and Britain.

The briefing ‘Our kids are bombed’: Schools under attack in Yemen, investigates five airstrikes on schools which took place between August and October 2015 killing five civilians and injuring at least 14, including four children, based on field research in Yemen.

While students were not present inside the schools during the attacks, the strikes caused serious damage or destruction which will have long-term consequences for students, Amnesty International’s website reports.

“The Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched a series of unlawful airstrikes on schools being used for educational – not for military – purposes, a flagrant violation of the laws of war,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International who recently returned from Yemen.

“Schools are central to civilian life, they are meant to offer a safe space for children. Yemen’s young school pupils are being forced to pay the price for these attacks. On top of enduring a bitter conflict, they face longer term upheaval and disruption to their education – a potentially lifelong burden that they will be forced to shoulder.”

In some cases the schools were struck more than once, suggesting the strikes were deliberately targeted.

“Deliberately attacking schools that are not military objectives and directly attacking civilians not participating in hostilities are war crimes,” said Lama Fakih.

The damage has severely disrupted the schooling of the more than 6,500 children who attend classes at the schools in Hajjah, Hodeidah and Sana’a governorates. In certain cases the schools had been the only ones in the area. No evidence could be found in any of the five cases to suggest the schools had been used for military purposes.

In October 2015 the Science and Faith School in Beni Hushayash, Sana’a was attacked on four separate occasions within the space of a few weeks. The third strike killed three civilians and wounded more than 10 people. The school, which was the only one in the village, was providing education to 1,200 students.

The Kheir School in the village of Hadhran, Beni Hushaysh, also suffered multiple airstrikes causing extensive damage rendering it unusable. Other airstrikes on the same village struck two civilian homes, killing two children and injuring their mother, and a nearby mosque, killing one man and injuring another, who were praying at the time of the attack.

Amnesty International is calling for the five attacks highlighted in this briefing to be investigated independently and impartially and for those responsible to be held accountable. It is also asking the coalition to provide full reparation to victims of unlawful attacks and their families.

“The lack of investigations by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and those who provide them with arms and other support, into a growing list of suspected unlawful attacks suggests a chilling apathy for the devastating consequences this war has wrought on civilians in Yemen,” said Lama Fakih.

“Regardless of the outcome of planned peace talks next week it is crucial that independent investigations into these and other unlawful strikes are undertaken and that those responsible are held to account.”

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