GENEVA - The United Nations' human rights office is calling on Yemeni authorities to investigate the deaths of dozens of civilians, mostly from recent airstrikes involving the Saudi-led coalition.
Fifty-eight civilians have been killed — including 42 by the Saudi-led coalition — between August 17 and 24, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reports. Twelve civilians were killed by armed men, and four were killed by local fighters in the Popular Committees group, allied with Houthi rebels, according to U.N. human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell.
"This week's total is more than the number of civilians killed in the whole of June, when 52 were killed, and in July, which saw 57 civilian deaths," Throssell said. "Since March 2015, the U.N. human rights office has documented 13,829 civilian casualties, including 5,110 killed and 8,719 injured."
However, the overall number of civilian casualties is probably much higher, Throssell adds.
An airstrike by coalition forces hit a hotel in Sanaa Governorate earlier this week and, on the same day, a second strike hit a guesthouse used by farm workers, she says. Both targets were close to Houthi-manned checkpoints, which were unscathed, she adds.
"In all these cases in which civilians were killed and injured, witnesses told our Yemen team that there had been no warnings that an attack was imminent," Throssell said. "Attacks targeting civilians or civilian objects are prohibited under international humanitarian law, which also prohibits indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks."
The United Nations calls Yemen the world's largest humanitarian crisis. After more than two years of civil war, it reports the country is on the brink of famine and some 18 million people need humanitarian assistance.