The second annual report by the 3-member, UN-appointed ‘Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen’ has said that the US, France and the UK may be responsible for war crimes in Yemen. According to the report, submitted yesterday, these countries may be charged with arming and providing intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which has killed innocent civilians and used starvation as a method of warfare.
The report points out how stalling access to humanitarian aid has been frequently used as a method of warfare by all parties in the ongoing war in Yemen. It has also highlighted that all parties, and in particular forces loyal to Saudi-backed president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, routinely detain, threaten and target individuals who are critical of their acts. Political opponents are illegally detained and subjected to murder, rape and torture.
The report states that the frequent airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition may have violated the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. It notes that none of the people responsible for these airstrikes have been punished. Only last Sunday, a Saudi airstrike on a Houthi detention center in Dhamar killed more than 100 people.
The Houthi forces are also accused of using anti-personnel mines and shelling residential areas indiscriminately. They are also accused of deploying child soldiers.
The panel of the Group has recorded that from March 2015 to June 2019, a total of 7,292 civilian deaths and injuries of different degrees to more than 11,000 individuals, including children and women, can be directly related to armed attacks. However, the real figures are estimated to be much higher.
The Group, led by Kemal Jendoubi of Tunisia, was set up by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on December 4, 2017. It submitted a similar report last year. During the course of a year, it has conducted more than 600 interviews with victims and witnesses of the war in Yemen.
According to the report, the war has left more than 80% of Yemen’s population (24 million) dependent on humanitarian aid and protection. It asks all external forces to stop the supply of arms to the parties involved in Yemen. It has also compiled a secret list of 160 military officials and politicians from Saudi Arabia, UAE, the Yemeni government and the Houthis, who may face charges of war crimes.
Saudi-led alliance suffers further damage
Meanwhile, the fighting between the Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces and loyalists of Saudi-backed president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi continues in Aden and the adjacent Abyan and Sabwah provinces. Both the STC and Hadi are part of the Saudi-led coalition but differences between them to led to conflict and the STC taking over Aden on August 11. Saudi Arabia has tried to prevent clashes between members of its coalition by increasing the number of its own armed personnel in the oil-rich Sabwah province. In response, the STC has also increased its numbers in Aden by calling back its fighters who were deployed around Hodeida. It has been reported that they have tried to fortify Aden, in order to prevent Hadi-loyalists from attempting a takeover of the city.
Saudi Arabia has also called for a summit with all its coalition partners. The head of the STC, Aidarous al-Zubaidi, reached Jeddah for the meeting yesterday.