UN calls for probe into Ye­men vi­o­la­tions

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

THE UN has called for the cre­ation of an in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional body to in­ves­ti­gate a se­ries of hu­man vi­o­la­tions in the on­go­ing war in Ye­men.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hus­sein, the UN’s hu­man rights chief, said in a state­ment yes­ter­day that air strikes by the Arab coali­tion in Ye­men were re­spon­si­ble for the ma­jor­ity of 3 799 civil­ian deaths.

Houthi rebels and al­lied forces loyal to for­mer Pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh, who rule the cap­i­tal, Sanaa, have car­ried out rocket and mor­tar at­tacks on res­i­den­tial ar­eas and used land­mines, the UN Hu­man Rights body said in its re­port. Th­ese also con­sti­tuted doc­u­mented vi­o­la­tions that should be ad­dressed, it said.

The UN hu­man rights chief said that Ye­me­nis were suf­fer­ing “un­bear­ably (and) ab­sent any form of ac­count­abil­ity and jus­tice, while those re­spon­si­ble for the vi­o­la­tions and abuses against them en­joy im­punity”.

Hus­sein said that “such a man­i­festly pro­tracted un­just sit­u­a­tion must no longer be tol­er­ated by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity”, and called for the cre­ation of “an in­ter­na­tional, in­de­pen­dent in­ves­tiga­tive body to carry out com­pre­hen­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tions”.

But the UN stopped short of ac­cus­ing ei­ther side of war crimes, say­ing it was for a na­tional or in­ter­na­tional court to de­cide. “We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing, mon­i­tor­ing the vi­o­la­tions but we can­not de­cide that this a crime or not, this is for a tri­bunal or for a spe­cific body to de­cide. We can­not have this as­ser­tion that there is a crime or war crime,” Mo­ham­mad Ali Alnsour, chief of the Mid­dle East and North Africa sec­tion of the UN hu­man rights of­fice, told Reuters news agency.

Ye­men de­scended into chaos af­ter the 2012 re­moval of long-time pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh, whose forces are now fight­ing along­side Houthi rebels.

Se­cu­rity de­te­ri­o­rated fur­ther af­ter the Houthis swept into Sanaa in Septem­ber 2014 and pushed south, forc­ing the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Abd-Rabbu Man­sour Hadi to flee into ex­ile. In an at­tempt to re­turn the ex­iled pres­i­dent to power, a coali­tion led by Arab coun­tries be­gan an air cam­paign in March of 2015. Since then, more than 2.8 mil­lion Ye­me­nis have been driven from their homes and at least 14 mil­lion peo­ple, more than half of the pop­u­la­tion, are in need of emer­gency food and life-sav­ing as­sis­tance.

Last week, the med­i­cal aid group Doc­tors Without Bor­ders (MSF), evac­u­ated its staff from six hos­pi­tals in the north of the coun­try af­ter a coali­tion air strike hit a health fa­cil­ity op­er­ated by the group, killing 19 peo­ple.

The 16-month con­flict has also taken a hor­ri­fy­ing toll on the coun­try’s youth, with Unicef warn­ing that an es­ti­mated 320 000 chil­dren face life-threat­en­ing mal­nu­tri­tion. — AFP

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