UN Experts Accuse US of Complicity in Saudi War Crimes in Yemen
October 22, 2016
Edith M. Lederer / Associated Press & The Independent
UN experts investigating the double bombing of a packed funeral hall in the rebel-held Yemeni capital on Oct. 8 are accusing the Saudi-led coalition of violating international humanitarian law by attacking civilians, the wounded, and medical personnel. The UN Ministry of Health estimated 114 were killed and 613 injured in an attack on a funeral in Sanaa on October 8, 2016.
UN Experts Say Saudi Coalition Violated
International Humanitarian Law in Yemen Attack
Edith M. Lederer / Associated Press & The Independent
LONDON (October 21, 2016) -- UN experts investigating the double bombing of a packed funeral hall in the rebel-held Yemeni capital on Oct. 8 are accusing the Saudi-led coalition of violating international humanitarian law by attacking civilians, the wounded, and medical personnel.
The UN humanitarian coordinator cited initial reports saying over 140 people were killed and more than 525 injured in the attacks. The Ministry of Health has estimated 114 dead and 613 injured.
The panel of experts said the first bomb hit the Al-Sala Al-Kubra hall in Sanaa, which was packed with at least 750 adults and children including leaders of the Shiite Houthi rebels mourning the father of the acting interior minister. The second bomb was dropped three to eight minutes later when civilians and medical personnel were trying to help casualties from the first attack.
The Saudi-led coalition, which is backed by the US, has been targeting Houthi leaders since March 2015 when it intervened in Yemen's civil war in support of the internationally recognised government.
The experts' report, obtained Thursday by the Associated Press, said preliminary information indicates that "the attack resulted in a disproportionately higher numbers of civilian casualties, when compared to military casualties, and that this could have been anticipated prior to the attack."
International humanitarian law prohibits attacks that may cause incidental civilian deaths and injuries or damage to civilian buildings, and requires any party planning an attack to first assess its "proportionality," the report said.
The experts' report, to the head of the UN Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against the Houthi Shiite rebels, said the panel was unaware of any measures taken by the coalition to make such an assessment -- or to prevent death and injury to civilians and damage to civilian buildings.
The panel said it "remains unconvinced" that the requirements under international law were met but it will continue to investigate.
But it said the second air strike "almost certainly resulted in more casualties to the already wounded and the first responders," a practice prohibited under international humanitarian law.
"The panel thus finds, in respect of the second air strike, that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition violated its obligations" not to attack those unable to fight, the wounded and medical personnel, "and did not take effective precautionary measures to minimize harm to civilians, including the first responders," the report said.
The coalition's Joint Incidents Assessment Team last Saturday blamed "wrong information" for the bombing. It said a "party" affiliated to Yemen's General Chief of Staff headquarters had provided intelligence that the hall was filled with Houthi leaders and was "a legitimate military target."
The experts recommended that the head of the UN sanctions committee ask coalition members to stop using "the 'double-tap' attack tactic during air strikes," in which a first bomb is quickly followed by a second, "as this nearly always leads to fatalities and injuries to first responders."
They also said Saudi Arabia should be asked to cooperate and share data with the panel.
ACTION: STOP SUPPORT FOR WAR IN YEMEN
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ACTION ALERT: President Obama --
Stop US Support for War in Yemen
Scott Paul / Oxfam America
This past Saturday, as Yemeni mourners waited to pay their respects at a funeral home, Saudi warplanes obliterated the hall where they were gathered, killing over 140 people and wounding hundreds.
This is not an isolated incident, but rather the latest tragedy in Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen -- enabled by US-manufactured bombs, intelligence sharing with US agencies, and US military help to fuel Saudi aircraft.
The Saudi-led war in Yemen has killed thousands and fueled a humanitarian crisis, with millions homeless and on the verge of starvation. The US is complicit in this human suffering.
Ten days ago, Saudi warplanes obliterated a funeral gathering in Yemen, where hundreds of people representing all sides of the war were gathered to pay their respects to a respected elder.
Over 140 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured in the strike.
Our hearts are broken over this indefensible attack on funeral mourners -- and our grief turned to outrage as we learned that US-manufactured bombs were used to carry out this tragedy.
Despite this clear attack on civilians, the US is still providing military support to Saudi Arabia while it "reviews its policy."
The funeral bombing is just the latest tragedy in the last 18-months of conflict. The war has killed thousands of civilians and plunged Yemen deeper into a humanitarian crisis.
Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East before the start of this conflict -- and now it is on the brink of starvation.
More than 19 million people do not have access to clean water. 14 million people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. And more than 3 million Yemenis have been driven from their homes.
A 72-hour ceasefire is schedule to begin on Thursday. It's a positive move, but it may not hold or generate the kind of political progress that can help Yemenis recover. We need to keep the pressure up.
If you aren't convinced yet about how your action will make a difference, let me give you one more reason to act: we're in the middle of a critical moment to influence President Obama about pulling all support for the war in Yemen.
News of the funeral attack made the front page, and scrutiny on the US's support for the Saudi-led war has ratcheted up.
Hospitals, schools, homes, and funerals -- there is no safe space in Yemen today. Thank you for standing up against this conflict that has already caused so much suffering.
Now is the time to tell President Obama that we will not stand by as our tax dollars are used to fund the war in Yemen. Send your letter to President Obama now
In the wake of this tragedy, tell President Obama to immediately end US support for war in Yemen.
ACTION: Tell President Obama now: end support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen once and for all.
Scott Paul is Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor for Oxfam America
Yemen Ceasefire Comes into Effect under UN Plan
(October 19, 2016) -- A ceasefire took effect in war-ravaged Yemen late on Wednesday under a United Nations plan. The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, had announced on Monday that the cessation of hostilities would take effect "at 23:59 Yemen time (2059 GMT) on 19 October 2016, for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal".
It is the sixth ceasefire attempt between rebels and pro-government forces since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March last year to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.