UN points to possible ‘war crimes’ in Yemen conflict

Saudi-led coalition accuses UN of bias

29 August, 2018 12:00 AM printer

GENEVA: All sides in Yemen’s bloody conflict may have committed war crimes, UN investigators said Tuesday, highlighting deadly air strikes, rampant sexual violence, and the recruitment of young children as soldiers, reports AFP.

In their first report, a team of UN-mandated investigators said they had “reasonable grounds to believe that the parties to the armed conflict in Yemen have committed a substantial number of violations of international humanitarian law.”

Many of these violations may amount to “war crimes”, the report said, pointing to widespread arbitrary detention, rape, torture and the recruitment of children as young as eight to take part in hostilities.

Kamel Jendoubi, who heads the UN’s so-called Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts, said the investigators had identified a number of alleged perpetrators.

“A confidential list of these individuals will be presented today to the (UN) High Commissioner” for Human Rights, he told journalists in Geneva.

The devastating conflict in Yemen has left nearly 10,000 people dead since March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition intervened to fight Huthi rebels closing in on the last bastion of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government.

The UN human rights office said Tuesday that some 6,660 civilians were among the dead, while more than 10,500 had been injured.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen on Monday accused the United Nations of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed dozens of children in rebel-held areas.

“The coalition is surprised by the ... biased positions of some reports,” said coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki, adding that the information was “prejudiced” and based on “rebel stories”.

The coalition has not confirmed or denied it carried out two air raids on Thursday that the UN said killed at least 26 children and four women south of the flashpoint rebel-held city of Hodeida.

The UN Security Council had already called for a “credible” investigation into a strike blamed on the coalition in northern Yemen on August 9 that the Red Cross said killed 40 children. The coalition has announced its own probe into that raid.

Two UN officials have made public statements condemning the attacks.