Statement by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore
39th session of the Human Rights Council
25 September 2018
Colleagues and friends,
Despite international appeals, multiple representations to parties to the conflict and the unwavering efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, peace is yet to come to Yemen and the tragic suffering of the people continues with human rights violations pervasive.
Key aspects of these the horrendous circumstances - to which the population of Yemen is subjected – one of the youngest populations in the world today – are set out in the report before you which presents the findings and conclusions of the Group of Eminent Experts established by this Council.
Their findings are unequivocal: individuals in the Government of Yemen, from among the coalition members, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and from the de facto authorities, have committed acts that subject to determination by a competent court, may amount to international crimes.
The Group of Experts has identified a number of named individuals who may be responsible for the perpetration such crimes, and that confidential list is now with the Office.
The Eminent Experts’ first report, and the list of names, are significant contributions to efforts to ensure accountability mechanisms are established for the victims of the conflict in Yemen. As the High Commissioner has stated, so long as the conflict continues, there must be international and independent investigations into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes. That is the least we can do.
Allow me to take this opportunity to welcome the Group of Eminent Experts to the podium today and with your kind permission, Mr President, I will invite the Chair of the Eminent Experts to make a brief statement.
The suffering of the Yemeni people has been further intensified by blockades and restrictions on imports and humanitarian assistance. Today twenty-two million Yemenis are in need of assistance. Eight million are at risk of famine. A whole generation of children is without reliable access to education. The sharp fall of the Yemeni currency has further increased market prices for basic food commodities, pushing an additional 3.5 million people into food insecurity.
In this context of suffering and deprivation, the coalition’s ongoing offensive against the port and city of Hudaydah threatens only further suffering to millions of people including because of the massive disruption it will bring to humanitarian aid efforts. I draw this Council’s attention to the very strong probability that prolonged assault on Hudaydah will result in civilian casualties.
In a rare glimmer of hope, we welcome news that the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen is working with the World Health Organization to open a life-saving air bridge for civilians suffering from medical conditions that cannot be treated inside the country. We urge all parties to make this initiative a success.
During the reporting period, our Office continued to provide technical assistance to the National Commission of Inquiry pursuant to Council resolution 36/31. OHCHR organized seven training sessions and workshops for the commissioners and staff of the Commission on applicable international law, human rights monitoring and documentation, investigation methodologies, report writing, administration, finance and information management.
With your kind agreement, I will now ask Mr. Kamel Jendoubi, Chair of the Group of Eminent Experts, to give a brief statement outlining their key findings and recommendations.
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