GENEVA - The United Nations calls suffering endured by millions of people in Yemen after more than two years of civil war an entirely man-made catastrophe.
The world body reports there have been more than 11,700 civilians killed or injured in Yemen since the Saudi Arabian coalition began airstrikes against Houthi rebels in support of the government in March 2015. It blames more than 8,000 of the casualties on the coalition and more than 3,700 on the Houthis.
The report says conflict, cholera and severe food shortages have made Yemen the world's largest humanitarian crisis.
The U.N. Human Rights Agency’s Chief of Middle East and North Africa, Mohammad Ali Ainsour, says Yemen’s 18.8. million people need humanitarian aid and more than 10 million are in acute need of health care.
“The catastrophe is entirely man-made and a direct result of the behavior of the parties to the conflict, including indiscriminate attacks,” said Ainsour. "We have seen attacks on markets, residential areas, hospitals, schools, funeral gatherings and even fishermen and small civilian boats at sea.”
The report says civilians may have been directly targeted in some cases. The report documents a wide range of continuing human rights violations and abuses. It expresses concern at the increasing number of arbitrary or illegal detentions and forced disappearances of human rights defenders, religious leaders, journalists, and political opponents.
Ainsour says there are at least 1,700 cases of child recruitment, most by Houthi forces and 20 percent by pro-government forces.
“OHCHR [the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] monitors frequently observed children as young as 10, who were armed and uniformed and manning Houthi ... checkpoints,” said Ainsour.
U.N. Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein is repeating his call for an end to the fighting and for an independent, international investigation to be established. He says it is crucial to hold to account perpetrators of violations and abuse.