UN Blames Saudi-Led Coalition for Most Attacks on Yemeni Civilians
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that a Saudi-led coalition’s military campaign in Yemen appeared to be responsible for a “disproportionate amount” of attacks on civilian areas.
Speaking at the council’s first public meeting on Yemen since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began nine months ago, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said he had “observed with extreme concern” heavy shelling from the ground and air in areas of Yemen with a high concentration of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools.
He said all parties to the conflict were responsible, “although a disproportionate amount appeared to be the result of airstrikes carried out by coalition forces.”
“I further call on the council to do everything within its power to help restrain the use of force by all parties and to urge all sides to abide by the basic principles of international humanitarian law,” Zeid said, Reuters reported.
Warring parties in Yemen agreed to a renewable seven-day ceasefire under UN auspices that started Dec. 15, but it has been repeatedly violated.
The United Nations says the conflict has killed nearly 6,000 people, almost half of them civilians. Zeid said more than 600 children had been killed and some 900 injured – a five-fold increase compared to 2014.
A first round of peace talks adjourned on Sunday and the UN’s envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said the two sides would meet again on Jan. 14.
Ahmed told the council there were still deep divisions and “trust between the parties remains weak.”
The United Nations has designated Yemen as one of its highest-level humanitarian crises, alongside emergencies in South Sudan, Syria and Iraq. It says more than 21 million people in Yemen need help, or about 80 percent of the population.
“The potential ramifications of a failed state in Yemen would almost inevitably create safe havens for radical and confessional groups such as the so-called (Islamic State),” Zeid told the 15-member council.
“This, in turn, could expand the conflict beyond Yemen’s borders, potentially shattering regional stability,” he said.