Workers pull bags containing bodies of victims of Saudi-led airstrikes on a Houthi detention center, at a hospital morgue in Dhamar, Yemen, Sept. 2, 2019.
Workers pull bags containing bodies of victims of Saudi-led airstrikes on a Houthi detention center, at a hospital morgue in Dhamar, Yemen, Sept. 2, 2019.

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - U.N. investigators say an array of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law committed by Yemen’s warring parties over the past five years may amount to war crimes.

A new report by international and regional experts documents a long list of gross violations perpetrated with impunity by the government of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and affiliated armed groups.  

A Yemeni southern separatist fighter inspects the wreckage of government forces vehicles destroyed by UAE airstrikes near Aden, Aug. 30, 2019.

Violations occur through air strikes, indiscriminate shelling, snipers, and land mines as well as a wide range of abuses, including torture, arbitrary killing and detention, and sexual and gender-based violence. The report on Yemen will be submitted to the U.N. human rights council next week.

International expert Charles Garraway told VOA all the warring parties are complicit in the crimes.

“There are no clean hands in this contest.  It is not a matter of trying to work out who has committed more offenses than any other.  Everybody, everybody is responsible,”  he said.

The panel of experts said the world must stop turning a blind eye to the catastrophic situation.  The U.N. calls Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and reports 24 million people or 80 percent of the population depend on international aid to survive.

Displaced Yemenis receive food supplies provided by the World Food Program, at a school in Sana'a, Aug. 25, 2019.

But much of the food, medicine and other aid is prevented from reaching the people because of attacks and the use of blockades. The report finds evidence that the warring parties may be using starvation as a method of warfare.

International expert Melissa Parke said the population lives in fear of being detained or otherwise targeted for any perceived dissent.

“Parties are actively recruiting children as young as 12 years old, including through force.  Parties are harassing and threatening activists, journalists, human rights defenders and humanitarian workers and imposing on them restrictions in their work… All of these acts amount to violations of the rights of Yemeni people and many of them amount to war crimes,” she said.

The United States, Britain and France reportedly are supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.  Iran reportedly is providing arms to the Houthi rebels.

The experts are urging states not to provide arms to parties to the conflict.  They say the continued supply of weapons to the fighting forces is perpetuating the conflict and prolonging the suffering of the Yemeni people.

 

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