Netherlands wants UN committee to investigate rights abuses in Yemen

EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

The Associated Press (AP) reported that Dutch diplomats submitted a request at the UN Human Rights Council asking for the investigation of human rights abuses in war-torn Yemen


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Human rights abuses in Yemen seems to worry the Dutch diplomats at the UN, as they submitted a resolution at the UN’s Human Rights Council for the establishment of a mission to monitor and report possible right abuses in war-torn Yemen.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that the Netherlands tabled the resolution today in the face of another resolution co-sponsored by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabia resolution was submitted by the Arab Coalition which performs air-strikes in Yemen against the Shia rebels, known as Houthis.

AP reported that the Arab resolution asks from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Prince of Jordan, to provide “technical assistance,” to exiled Yemen’s government in order to assess the human rights abuses committed in Yemen.

However, AP reported that the resolution promoted by the Netherlands puts the United States in difficult position as the US supports Saudi Arabia and must now decide which of the two resolution should endorse.

Human Rights abuses in Yemen

In August, Amnesty International reported that a series of war crimes are taking place in Yemen, since the start of the airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in March.

Amnesty International has investigated eight airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition which killed at least 141 civilians and injured 101 others, mostly women and children, during a research mission to Yemen in June and July 2015. Senior official for Amnesty, Donatella Rovera said: “Coalition forces have blatantly failed to take necessary precautions to minimize civilian casualties, an obligation under international humanitarian law. Indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amount to war crimes.”

In regard with the fighting on the ground, the civilian losses were smaller but still war crimes were recorded. The fighting between the Shia rebels Houthis, supported by armed and security forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and anti-Houthi armed groups, caused the death of 68 civilians and injured 99 others, Amnesty reported.

Fighters from both parties routinely used imprecise weapons including Grad-type rockets, mortars and artillery fire in densely populated residential areas, displacing utter disregard for the safety of civilians. Such indiscriminate attacks may amount to war crimes, Amensty stressed.

“The utter failure of all parties to the conflict to minimize the risk to civilians during fighting has had truly devastating consequences for civilians. The gruesome nature of the casualties exposes the true horror and reality of war and the deadly and long-lasting impact of such attacks on civilians,” said Rovera.

Moreover, on 12 August, Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food underlined that sieges in a number of Yemen governorates, including Aden, Al Dhali, Lahj and Taiz, have been preventing staple food items, such as wheat, from reaching the civilian population, while airstrikes have reportedly targeted local markets and trucks laden with food items.

“The deliberate starvation of civilians in both international and internal armed conflict may constitute a war crime, and could also constitute a crime against humanity in the event of deliberate denial of food and also the deprivation of food sources or supplies,” Elver said then.

In August, Amnesty demanded from the United Nations Human Rights Council to initiate a war crime inquiry in Yemen. Then Amnesty asked from the Council, to create an international commission of inquiry to independently and impartially investigate alleged war crimes committed during the conflict.

War in Yemen

Even before the war, life in Yemen was difficult as the Middle East country, is the poorest nation in the region.

Now the war between the Shia rebels, known as Houthis, and the forces loyal to exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and the involvement of the Arab coalition resulted in a major humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. The Hadi forces have the support of the Arab-coalition led by Saudi Arabia which accuses Iran of supporting the Houthis.

Due to the catastrophic war, the number of food-insecure people in Yemen is close to 13 million, including more than 6 million people who cannot survive without external assistance. Most probably at least some of the people in Yemen, can’t afford to leave their country, and they are now stuck in the middle of a violent war.

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