GENEVA - The Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen blames all warring parties for the catastrophic humanitarian crisis that has been causing immeasurable suffering for millions of civilians during more than four years of civil conflict. The experts have presented their latest report to the U.N. human rights council.
The experts say there are no good guys in this war. All are bad. They say the government of Yemen and its allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and armed groups affiliated with them are responsible for the tragedies and disasters that continue to unfold in the country.
Chairman of the Group, Kamel Jendoubi, says the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, caused by the needless death of so many innocent people every day, is completely avoidable. He puts the blame squarely on the parties involved in the conflict. He speaks through an interpreter.
“There is no excuse to allow the suffering of the Yemeni people to continue like this. I appeal to the international community to take a stand to support the Yemeni people—they do not deserve to live in a world where their most basic human rights are constantly violated,” said Jendoubi. "There is no excuse to allow the continuation of this killing, torture, and abuse. Nor is there a justification for depriving people of their rights to exercise their freedoms of religion and speech without suppression or censorship.”
The Group’s report documents in gruesome and heart-wrenching detail the many air and ground attacks aimed at hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure. It cites deaths and injuries. It describes widespread human rights violations: the abuse, arbitrary detentions, and starvation of civilians as weapons of war. The experts report many of these actions could amount to war crimes. They say the perpetrators should be prosecuted and brought to justice.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, agrees with this assessment.
“The people of Yemen are living through a terrible humanitarian crisis. Every imaginable source of human misery and suffering is tied up in this single conflict: war, disease, famine, economic collapse, international terrorism, widespread human rights violations and probable war crimes,” said Bachelet.
Bachelet says the civilian death toll continues to rise. She says most of the casualties are caused by airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition. Latest reports put the number of civilian deaths since March 26, 2015, at more than 7,500. Children account for more than one-quarter of these deaths.
In a few terse sentences, the representative of the government of Yemen brushed off the Experts’ report, calling its content politicized.