US and European arms used to attack Yemeni civilians: Report

Of 27 Saudi-led coalition attacks that killed 203 civilians in Yemen, 22 likely involved US-made weapons.

    Yassir Abdulrahman, 10, who lost his leg in a Saudi-led air attack that hit near his family's home, has a checkup in Sanaa, Yemen [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]
    Yassir Abdulrahman, 10, who lost his leg in a Saudi-led air attack that hit near his family's home, has a checkup in Sanaa, Yemen [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

    United States and European weapons are being used by the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition to kill and wound hundreds of civilians in Yemen, a new report by the Yemen-based Mwatana for Human Rights (MHR) has revealed.

    The organisation documented 27 unlawful coalition attacks from April 2015 to April 2018 that killed 203 civilians and injured at least 749.

    Of the 27 attacks, 22 likely involved weapons produced in the US, two attacks likely involved weapons produced in the United Kingdom, and three attacks likely involved weapons with parts produced in both the US and UK, the report said.

    The coalition has consistently attacked civilians, as well as homes, schools, businesses, farms, a health clinic, a government administration building and a celebration hall, in violation of the laws of war.

    The report, Day of Judgment: The Role of the US and Europe in Civilian Death, Destruction, and Trauma in Yemen, was released on Wednesday and noted that at least 122 children were among the dead and wounded in the attacks.

    "It is clear that Saudi and Emirati promises to minimise harm to civilians were empty," said Radhya al-Mutawakel, chairperson of the MHR.

    "This report demonstrates a pattern of deadly coalition attacks involving weapons provided by Western states, particularly the US. The US, UK, and others should immediately halt arms transfers and all other forms of assistance to coalition forces for use in Yemen."

    MHR wrote that during a wedding celebration in Hajjah Governorate in April 2018, a US-made bomb exploded killing at least 21 people and injured another 97, among them drummers, dancers and wedding guests including 60 children.

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    In a December 2016 attack on a civilian home, also in Hajjah Governorate, a US-made cluster bomb killed at least 15 civilians - nine of them children - and wounded at least seven more.

    In 2018, MHR documented 128 apparently unlawful coalition air attacks that killed 418 civilians, including 181 children, and wounded 435, among them 197 children.

    MHR also documented continued violations by the Houthi armed group in 2018, including laying landmines, shelling civilians, and arbitrarily detaining scores of people.

    Rescinding military support

    Despite ongoing abuses by the coalition, the US continues to sell Saudi Arabia and the UAE weapons for use in Yemen, in violation of domestic and international law, MHR noted.

    The UK, too, continues arms sales in violation of its obligations under the UN Arms Trade Treaty and the EU Common Position on Arms Export Controls.

    MHR remained optimistic however that the US Congress may take action. Many congressional members have committed to opposing future arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

    The chairperson of MHR will deliver testimony to Congress on Wednesday regarding MHR's findings on human rights abuses in Yemen.

    The US House of Representatives passed an historic resolution on February 13 to rescind military support for the coalition's ongoing campaign in Yemen. The Senate is expected to vote on a resolution this month.

    "It is long past time for the Senate to take the critical step of withdrawing US support for a brutal military campaign that has devastated Yemen and helped push half its population to the brink of famine," said Ruhan Nagra, executive director of the University Network for Human Rights.

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have led a coalition of countries in a military campaign against Houthi rebels - a campaign that has killed an estimated 50,000 people in Yemen.

    Yemen was already the poorest country in the Middle East before the war. Today, 14 million people are threatened by famine and even more depend on humanitarian assistance.

    An estimated 85,000 children in Yemen have died of hunger and preventable diseases, according to the report.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News