Violence against civilians, blocks on humanitarian aid, torture, child soldiers. None of the parties tried to minimize civilian deaths. The official figure of the dead is 6.660, but the real number would be much higher.
Geneva (AsiaNews) - Indiscriminate violence against civilians, blocks on humanitarian aid, torture, eight-year-old children forced to fight and sexual violence: all the parties involved in the conflict in Yemen have perpetrated - and continue to perpetrate - war crimes. This is the harsh accusation by the UN human rights group in Yemen, collected in a 41-page document, published yesterday.
The report covers the period between September 2014 and June 2018, analysing the main patterns of violations and abuses of human rights, humanitarian law and international criminal law. Experts say they have identified a list of leaders, who have been forwarded to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. These are individuals from the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition - which also involves the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - and the "de facto authorities" [i.e. the Houti rebels, ed.).
The report points out that the air strikes conducted by the coalition caused the majority of direct deaths among civilians. The raids hit residential areas, markets, funeral and wedding ceremonies, detention centres, civilian transport and even medical facilities.
According to the editors, the perpetrators have violated the principle of distinction, proportionality and precaution, and have been guilty of war crimes. "There is little evidence - says Kamel Jendoubi, head of the group of experts - that the parties involved in the conflict have tried to minimize the number of civilian deaths".
The group also criticizes the harsh naval and air restrictions imposed on the country since March 2015. In addition, UN experts accuse all parties of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners detained without charge and without access to a defense.
The report also denounces the recruitment of child soldiers: the majority of children between the ages of 11 and 17, to which are added significant numbers of children of only eight years. Finally, the personnel of the Emirates and Cordone security forces are responsible for sexual violence against the most vulnerable categories, such as refugees.
According to the UN Human Rights Office, at least 6,660 civilians died between March 2015 and 23 August 2018. According to the authors, the figure would be far greater. The Yemeni government has "primary legal responsibility" to prosecute the crimes committed by its citizens and armed forces.