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Press briefing notes on Yemen

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 21 July 2017

(1) Yemen

Our office in Yemen has gathered more information about a deadly airstrike that took place in a small village in Taizz Governorate in Yemen on Tuesday, 18 July. The Arab Coalition Forces airstrike took place in Al Asheerah village, which is near the town of Mawza, and is currently controlled by the Houthis, at around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. According to witnesses who fled the area and were interviewed by one of our monitors, the airstrike destroyed a makeshift house made of straw, killing all three families who were inside it at the time. At least 18 civilians in all, including ten children and two women, are believed to have died in the incident.

The three families had been recorded by our office in Yemen as displaced, along with three others, from their homes in a different village nearby three months ago as a result of other airstrikes, and had set up four rough shelters in an open area in Al Asheerah. The village is located approximately eight kilometres away from Khalid Bin Al Walid Military Camp, where clashes between pro-Hadi forces, backed by the Coalition Forces, and the Houthis are taking place, and, according to available information, there do not appear to have been any military objectives anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the destroyed house.

Attacks targeting civilians or civilian objects or indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law, a​nd we also remind all parties to the conflict, including the Coalition, of their duty to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law and to respect their obligations under international human rights law. We call on the relevant authorities to carry out a comprehensive and impartial investigation into this incident.

Since March 2015, OHCHR has documented 13,609 civilian casualties, including 5,021 killed and 8,588 injured. These numbers are based on the casualties individually verified by the UN human rights office in Yemen.  The overall number is probably much higher, with some estimates suggesting a total of more than 11,000 civilians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org)

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