GENEVA (25 August 2016) – In light of the gravity of alleged breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in Yemen, and given challenges faced by the national commission of inquiry, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today called on the international community to establish an international, independent body to carry out comprehensive investigations in Yemen.
In a report mandated by the UN Human Rights Council and released today, the UN Human Rights Office has laid out a number of serious allegations of violations and abuses committed by all sides to the conflict in Yemen, highlighting in particular their impact on civilian lives, health and infrastructure.
Between March 2015 and 23 August 2016, an estimated 3,799 civilians have been killed and 6,711 injured as result of the war in Yemen.* At least 7.6 million people, including three million women and children are currently suffering from malnutrition and at least three million people have been forced to flee their homes.
“The perpetuation of the conflict and its consequences on the population in Yemen are devastating,” the report states. “The international community…has a legal and moral duty to take urgent steps to alleviate the appalling levels of human despair.”
The report contains examples of the kinds of possible violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law that have occurred between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016, including attacks on residential areas, marketplaces, medical and educational facilities, and public and private infrastructure; the use of landmines and cluster bombs; sniper attacks against civilians; deprivation of liberty; targeted killings; the recruitment and use of children in hostilities; and forced evictions and displacement.
In several of the documented military attacks, the report states that the UN Human Rights Office was unable to identify the presence of possible military objectives. “In numerous situations where military targets could be identified, there remain serious concerns as to whether the incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects that could be expected from the attack were not excessive in relation to the anticipated concrete and direct military advantage apparently sought,” the report states.
While a national commission of inquiry was established in September 2015 by Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the report found that the commission did not enjoy the cooperation of all concerned parties and could not operate in all parts of Yemen. It was thus unable to implement its mandate in accordance with international standards.
“Civilians in Yemen have suffered unbearably over the years from the effects of a number of simultaneous and overlapping armed conflicts,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “And they continue to suffer, absent any form of accountability and justice, while those responsible for the violations and abuses against them enjoy impunity. Such a manifestly, protractedly unjust situation must no longer be tolerated by the international community.”
High Commissioner Zeid also urged all parties to the conflict to work towards a negotiated and durable solution to the conflict in the best interest of the Yemeni people and to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law.
* The figures relating to casualties and internally displaced people as stated here have been updated beyond the period covered by the report itself.