Middle East

Yemen war: Failure to investigate violations shameful - UN

A man carries Buthaina Muhammad Mansour, a Yemeni girl rescued from the site of a Saudi-led coalition air strike that killed eight of her family members in Sanaa on 25 August 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Children accounted for 1,184 of those who killed and 1,541 of those injured since 2015

The UN human rights chief has described as "shameful" the reticence of the international community to investigate violations in the conflict in Yemen.

The failure to seek justice for victims was "contributing to the continuing horror", Zeid Raad Al Hussein said.

His comments came after the release of a report that said almost every rule of modern warfare was being flouted.

It found that civilians were targeted in air strikes, prohibited weapons used and children recruited as soldiers.

The UN says at least 5,144 civilians have been killed - a quarter of them children - since March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition intervened in the war between President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi's government and the rebel Houthi movement.

The conflict has also left 20.7 million people in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance, created the largest food security emergency in the world, and led to a cholera outbreak that is believed to have affected 600,000 people since April.

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Media captionThe BBC travels deep into rebel held Yemen, to see starvation caused by war

The new report published in Geneva on Tuesday found that human rights violations and abuses were continuing unabated in Yemen, with civilians suffering deeply the consequences of an "entirely man-made catastrophe".

In many cases, it states, information obtained by UN officials suggested that civilians "may have been directly targeted, or that operations were conducted heedless of their impact on civilians without regard to the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack". In some cases, it appeared that "no actions were taken to mitigate the impact of operations on civilians".

Saudi-led coalition air strikes - supported by the United States and United Kingdom - continued to be the leading cause of the 13,893 civilian casualties documented, reportedly killing some 3,233 people.

The strikes targeted markets, hospitals, schools, residential areas and infrastructure, as well as funeral gatherings and civilian boats, the report says.

There was no immediate comment from the coalition, but it has repeatedly denied that its air strikes have intentionally targeted civilians.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The besieged city of Taiz has been devastated by two years of fighting

Houthi-affiliated militias and allied army units loyal to ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh were meanwhile responsible for some 67% of the 1,702 cases of recruitment of children for use in hostilities, according to the report.

Rebel forces were also found to have carried out widespread arbitrary or unlawful detentions.

The Houthis have previously denied formally recruiting children and detaining people without charge.

The report also notes that the National Commission established by Yemen's government to investigate human rights violations is "not perceived to be impartial".

"An international investigation would go a long way in putting on notice the parties to the conflict that the international community is watching and determined to hold to account perpetrators of violations and abuses," Mr Zeid said.

"The reticence of the international community in demanding justice for the victims of the conflict in Yemen is shameful, and in many ways contributing to the continuing horror," he added.

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