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HRW Highlights 'Need for Accountability' as Yemen War Enters Year 2

  • VOA News

FILE - Bodies of Somali migrants, killed in attack by a helicopter while traveling in a boat off the coast of Yemen, lie on the ground at Hodeida city, Yemen, Mar. 17, 2017.

Human Rights Watch says an apparent Saudi-led coalition attack on a boat carrying Somali civilians off the Yemen coast "highlights the need for accountability" on the second anniversary of the conflict that has been raging in the country.

A statement issued Sunday noted that all parties to the conflict have denied responsibility for the attack on the boat that killed more than 30 of 145 Somali migrants and refugees on board. But HRW said only Saudi-led coalition forces have military aircraft.

“The coalition’s apparent firing on a boat filled with fleeing refugees is only the latest likely war crime in Yemen’s two-year-long war,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Reckless disregard for the lives of civilians has reached a new level of depravity.”

According to HRW, four people aboard the boat said that at about 9 p.m. on March 13 they saw a helicopter repeatedly shoot at the boat.

The HRW statement came as tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of the capital Sana'a Sunday to protest the Saudi-led military intervention.

Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Iran-allied Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and trying to restore to power internationally recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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