The Terrible Human Cost of the War on Yemen

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The United Nations human rights boss Michelle Bachelet called on Saudi Arabia to hold to account the perpetrators of deadly airstrikes on civilians in Yemen.

In her maiden speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday, the former Chilean president touched on the Saudi airstrike on a bus of children in Sa’ada last month, which left more than 50 people dead, Middle East News reported.

Bachelet urged the Saudi military to show greater transparency in their rules of engagement in Yemen which is under an all-out invasion by the kingdom since 2015.

As soon as a bus carrying school children entered a busy market in the Sa’ada town of Zahyn last month, Saudi fighters targeted it. At least 51 civilians have lost their lives and 80 others sustained injuries, most of whom were students, sparking outrage from international human rights groups and UN officials.

The UN announced that there is no justification for Saudi Arabia’s latest massacre in Yemen which claimed the lives of scores of civilians, mostly of whom were children.

“What we are seeing today are the victims of the airstrike. The terrible human cost of the airstrike and of the war. The entire world condemns this,” UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen Lise Grande said during a trip to the war-torn country.

Grande added that the UN Secretary General has called for an “immediate transparent, comprehensive, independent investigation”, into the deadly attack on civilians.

Meanwhile, UNICEF’s resident representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relano, has called for an end to Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and continued massacring of children.

“In the recent attack in Sa’ada, I have visited at least 13 children that have injuries and I hope that they are good to go very soon and back to play, and play football, and back to their normal lives because this has been a very shocking attacks, terrifying, which will leave them not only physical injuries but also psychological injuries,” Relano stated.

Munitions experts have confirmed that the bomb used by the Saudi-led coalition in recent attack on a school bus in Yemen that killed dozens of children had been supplied by the United States.

The experts told CNN that the bomb was a 227-kilogram laser-guided Mark 82 bomb, noting that the numbers on the weapon identified major US military contractor Lockheed Martin as its maker.

The report also said that the bomb used in the Sa’ada airstrike was very similar to the one that hit a funeral hall in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, in October 2016, killing 155 people and injuring 525 others.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also called for an end to all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia following the bombing of the school bus in Sa’ada province. The rights group called the attack an apparent war crime and stated that it places arms suppliers at “risk of complicity in war crimes”.

Yemeni Human Rights Minister Alia al-Shaabi strongly condemned the brutal assault of Riyadh and its allies on a school children’s bus, stating that the Saudi-led coalition sees Yemeni women and children as strategic targets.

“The Saudi aggressors have made the Yemeni people, children, old men and women as military targets,” she said, adding that “we welcome the condemnations of international organizations and the United Nations for the crime and call for the formation of an impartial and independent international commission of inquiry”.

Al-Shaabi revealed that the missile used by the coalition to hit the bus carrying Yemeni kids was exactly the same type which killed some 155 people at a funeral ceremony in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in 2016, and was made in the United States.

At least 155 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in several airstrikes on a funeral reception in Sana’a in early October 2016, according to health officials. The death toll was one of the largest in any single incident since Saudi Arabia began military operations aganist against its impoverished Southern neighbor in March 2015.

Al-Shaabi’s point of view on the issue echoes an Ansarullah official’s remarks who said the bombs used by the Riyadh-led coalition on Thursday attack was made in the US and was MK-82 which had earlier been used to pound a wedding ceremony in Hajjah province and a prison in al-Zaidiyeh.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had described the war in Yemen as a “war on children”, given the extensive damage that the conflict has caused to children in Yemen.

It also stressed that 2017 was the worst year for the children in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 17,500 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

Reports by independent world bodies have warned that the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, as Saudi Arabia’s deadly campaign prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with more than 22 million people in need and is seeing a spike in needs, fuelled by ongoing conflict, a collapsing economy and diminished social services and livelihoods.

A UN panel has compiled a detailed report of civilian casualties caused by the Saudi military and its allies during their war against Yemen, saying the Riyadh-led coalition has used precision-guided munitions in its raids on civilian targets.

Besides the US, the UK and France have also been providing weapons and intelligence to Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the course of the unprovoked war.