UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein appealed [press release] to the international community Tuesday to conduct an investigation into allegations of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen, after a new UN report[text] revealed that such violations continue with no apparent end in sight. The mandatory report is published by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) [official website] recording violations of human rights and humanitarian law over a three-year period ending August 2017. According to the report, 5,144 civilians, including 1,184 children, have been killed between March 2015, and August 30, 2017. During the same period, 8,749 have been injured, of which 1,592 were children. The report indicates coalition airstrikes to be the leading cause of civilian casualties. These airstrikes have reportedly targeted markets, hospitals, schools, residential areas, funeral gatherings, and other public and private infrastructure. The report also indicates that The Popular Committees affiliated with the Houthis [Al Jazeera backgrounder] and army units loyal to former President Abdullah Saleh [Al Jazeera profile] are responsible for recruiting approximately 67 percent of the 1,702 cases of child soldiers. Zeid expressed his dismay at the international community’s inaction, Reiterating that an international investigation into the rights violations in Yemen is crucial, Zeid concluded by appealing “to all the parties to the conflict, those supporting them and those with influence over them to have mercy on the people of Yemen, and to take immediate measures to ensure humanitarian relief for civilians and justice for the victims of violations.”
This report comes out less than a week after after 56 national, regional and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sent an open letter to representatives of the Member and Observer States of the HRC calling for an “independent, international inquiry” into violations of human rights in Yemen. The state of human rights in Yemen has been rapidly deteriorating since October, when UN rights expert Heiner Bielefeldt condemnedYemen for detaining individuals belonging to the religious community. In June, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the UAE of backing “Yemeni forces that have arbitrarily detained, forcibly disappeared, tortured, and abused dozens of people during security operations.” In May, UN expert on freedom of religion Ahmed Shaheed stated that Houthi de facto authorities in Yemen must end harassment against the Bahái community in the Yemen capital, Sana’a. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein reported that more than 13,000 civilians have been killed or wounded in the last two years and more than 80 percent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance, in his March, statement calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Yemen war and continued international support in ending the conflict.
as carried in JURIST on 6.9.17