Arab coalition accused of war crimes in Yemen

Amnesty International seeks halt to arms transfers to coalition members, citing evidence of “unlawful air strikes”.

People inspect the site of an air strike in Yemen''s northwestern city of Saada
The Houthi stronghold of Saada has been hit hard during the conflict [File: Reuters]

Amnesty International has accused the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen of carrying out unlawful air strikes, some of which amount to war crimes.

The UK-based rights group on Wednesday called for the suspension of transfers of certain arms to members of the coalition, which launched an air campaign against Houthi rebels in March.

Amnesty said in a report that it had examined 13 deadly air strikes by the coalition, assembled by Saudi Arabia, that had killed about 100 civilians, including 59 children. 

“This report uncovers yet more evidence of unlawful air strikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, some of which amount to war crimes. It demonstrates in harrowing detail how crucial it is to stop arms being used to commit serious violations of this kind,” said Amnesty’s Donatella Rovera, who headed the group’s fact-finding mission to Yemen.

“The USA and other states exporting weapons to any of the parties to the Yemen conflict have a responsibility to ensure that the arms transfers they authorise are not facilitating serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates are participating in the coalition.

Cluster bombs

Amnesty said its researchers had found remnants of two types of internationally banned cluster bombs as it investigated attacks on Saada, a Houthi stronghold in northeastern Yemen.

Another rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch, in August accused Saudi forces of using cluster bombs in Yemen.

The claim was then denied by a spokesman for the coalition.  

Saudi Arabia accused of cluster-bomb attacks in Yemen

Amnesty also said cases had been documented of civilians who were not directly participating in hostilities but were killed or injured while asleep or carrying out their daily activities.

It said that in at least four of the air strikes investigated, “Homes attacked were struck more than once, suggesting that they had been the intended targets despite no evidence they were being used for military purposes.”

Another Amnesty report, published in August, condemned both sides in the conflict over the killing of civilians.

Yemen’s war pits the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against forces fighting on the side of exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The Arab coalition is seeking to reinstate Hadi and his government.

More than 2,300 civilians have been killed in the conflict since March, the UN Human Rights office said late September.

Pro-Houthi forces have been accused of indiscriminately shelling populated areas in violation of the laws of war, killing civilians.

Source: Al Jazeera