Saudi-led coalition bombs school bus in Yemen; 29 children killed

Attacking children and civilians in an armed conflict is a serious violation of the international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime.

August 10, 2018 by Peoples Dispatch

On Thursday, at least 29 children were among the 43 people killed in a deadly airstrike carried out by Saudi Arabia on a school bus in Northern Yemen.

According to the International humanitarian agency, International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and the local health ministry, the airstrike also wounded 77 others when it struck the bus which was travelling through a busy market in the Dahyan district in the Northern Saada province, bordering Saudi Arabia.

The bus was taking the children to school and the victims included passersby and pedestrians. Health officials said that the death toll was likely to rise since some of those injured were battling serious and life-threatening injuries.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Twitter on Thursday that its team at an ICRC-supported hospital had received the bodies of 29 children, all under 15 years old. It also received 48 wounded people, including 30 children, it said. It urged all parties involved and the International community to protect civilians caught up in the conflict and follow international humanitarian law.

Hassan Muwlef, executive director of the Red Crescent office in Saada, reported that in the aftermath of the strike, body parts were strewn all over the area. He also said that the school bus was completely burnt and destroyed.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) [Doctors without Borders] condemned the attack, saying that civilians were paying the highest toll for the war in Yemen.

Under international humanitarian law, targeting children or civilians during armed conflicts is a war crime. International observers and human rights groups have called for the opening of war crime investigations against the members of the coalition, including Saudi Arabia, UAE and its western backers.

More than 16,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed or injured since the war began in 2015. Most of them were victims of coalition airstrikes. The Saudi-led coalition is the only party in the war that uses fighter planes.

In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition militarily intervened in the country in support of the exiled government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which had been overthrown by the Houthis, allegedly supported by Iran. The coalition is being supported by the United States and a host of other western countries, who are providing air-to-air refueling, intelligence and logistical support, and billions of dollars worth of weapons, missiles etc.

Yemen has been going through a devastating humanitarian crisis since the war began. Famine is widespread in most parts of Yemen, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that 8.4 million people are living in pre-famine conditions. The United Nations has called Yemen the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world” and noted that around 22 million Yemenis are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Yemen is also dealing with a severe cholera epidemic, exacerbated by the medical shortage due to the ongoing war and blockade by the Saudi-led coalition.