One in three Saudi air raids on Yemen hit civilian sites, data shows
More than one-third of all Saudi-led air raids on Yemen have hit civilian sites, such as school buildings, hospitals, markets, mosques and economic infrastructure, according to the most comprehensive survey of the conflict.
The findings, revealed by the Guardian on Friday, contrast with claims by the Saudi government, backed by its US and British allies, that Riyadh is seeking to minimise civilian casualties.
The survey, conducted by the Yemen Data Project, a group of academics, human rights organisers and activists, will add to mounting pressure in the UK and the US on the Saudi-led coalition, which is facing accusations of breaching international humanitarian law.
It will refocus attention on UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, worth more than £3.3bn since the air campaign began, and the role of British military personnel attached to the Saudi command and control centre, from which air operations are being mounted. Two British parliamentary committees have called for the suspension of such sales until a credible and independent inquiry has been conducted.
Saudi Arabia disputed the Yemen Data Project figures, describing them as “vastly exaggerated”, and challenged the accuracy of the methodology, saying somewhere such as a school building might have been a school a year ago, but was now being used by fighters.
The independent and non-partisan survey, based on open-source data, including research on the ground, records more than 8,600 air attacks between March 2015,
when the Saudi-led campaign began, and the end of August this year. Of these, 3,577 were listed as having hit military sites and 3,158 struck non-military sites.
Where it could not be established whether a location attacked was civilian or military, the strikes were classified as unknown, of which there are 1,882 incidents.
Saudi Arabia intervened in March 2015 to support the Yemeni government against Houthis in control of the capital, Sana’a. The UN has put the death toll of the 18-month war at more than 10,000, with 3,799 of them being civilians.
One school building in Dhubab, Taiz governorate, has been hit nine times, according to the data. A market in Sirwah, Marib governorate, has been struck 24 times.
“Over the course of the war, the survey lists 942 attacks on residential areas, 114 on markets, 34 on mosques, 147 on school buildings, 26 on universities and 378 on transport.”
According to the project, the Saudi-led coalition hit more non-military sites than military in five of the past 18 months. In October 2015, the figures were 291, compared with 208; in November, 126 against 34; December, 137 compared with 62; February 2016, 292 to 139, and March, 122 compared with 80, Guardian reported.
Source: The Guardian