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Press briefing note on Yemen and Mali

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location:    Geneva
Date: 14 April 2015
Subjects:  (1) Yemen & (2) Mali

(1) Yemen

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein today issued a call to all sides to the conflict in Yemen to ensure that attacks resulting in civilian casualties are promptly investigated and that international human rights and international humanitarian law are scrupulously respected during the conduct of hostilities in the country.

In addition to hundreds of fighters, at least 364 civilians are reported to have lost their lives since March 26, including at least 84 children and 25 women. Another 681 civilians – possibly more – have been injured. Dozens of public buildings, including hospitals, schools, airports and mosques have been destroyed in airstrikes, through shelling and other attacks.

High Commissioner Zeid urged all sides to negotiate a swift end to the bloodshed and devastation in Yemen. The full press release is available in English on http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15836&LangID=E and in French on http://www.ohchr.org/FR/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15836&LangID=F.

(2) Mali

We are deeply disturbed at the series of violent attacks that have occurred in the Gao and Kidal regions of northern Mali, making an already precarious security situation more volatile. We also deplore the continued targeting of UN personnel and humanitarian workers in the country.

The increasing use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and mines is very worrying.

Mostly recently, on April 6, two peacekeepers were injured when a vehicle of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) escorting a supply convoy hit an IED in Kidal. Last Friday, April 10, a civilian vehicle hit a mine or IED near Almoustarat in the Gao Region, seriously injuring two people. Also, on April 5, four rockets struck the town of Gao, causing the death of one woman and wounding three others, including a four-year-old boy.

Last Saturday, April 11, two MINUSMA national staff members were assaulted in Kidal town by three unidentified armed men. On 30 March, a group of armed men conducted a targeted attack against an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) vehicle in Gao, resulting in the death of one staff.

Since its establishment in 2013, MINUSMA has been attacked more than 60 times, causing more than 35 peacekeepers to be killed and a total of more than 200 casualties.

We urge all parties to the conflict in Mali to ensure the protection of civilians, including UN personnel and humanitarian workers. We also call on Government security forces to ensure that counter-terrorism operations are conducted in line with international human rights standards, and to avoid the excessive use of force, so as not to stoke further tensions and resentment among local inhabitants.

We are following up closely with the Malian authorities on allegations of human rights violations and abuses which may have been committed during such operations. It is particularly important during the ongoing peace process for action to be taken to ensure that any human rights violations or abuses are promptly investigated and perpetrators brought to justice. For peace to be secured and sustainable, there must be no impunity for any acts of violence, regardless of the perpetrators.

ENDS

For more information, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org).