A RECENTLY released report on the Yemen war compiled by UN human rights experts says all parties involved in the conflict may have committed war crimes. While this comes as no surprise, considering the frequent accounts emerging from the battered country of civilian deaths, it is important that a UN body has highlighted the massive suffering of the people of Yemen. The Group of Experts says the Yemeni government, the Saudi-led coalition supporting it, as well as their nemesis, the Houthi rebel group, have not done enough to prevent the targeting of civilians. The harshest criticism is reserved for the Saudi coalition; the group says its air strikes have caused the most civilian casualties, as people have been targeted in markets, weddings and funerals. The UAE has also been censured for its alleged abuse of detained persons, while the Houthis are said to have indiscriminately targeted civilians in Taiz. The parties involved in the Yemen war have also been accused of deploying child soldiers. While the Houthis have not responded to the claims, the coalition has rejected the report.
The UN report needs to be followed up with more in-depth investigations and all those involved in crimes against the Yemeni people must be held to account. However, what is clear is that no one’s hands are clean where the Yemen conflict is concerned. While the countries and forces named in the report need to answer for their actions, those supplying the deadly weapons being used against defenceless people — such as the US and the Europeans — also cannot be exonerated. This report is a damning indictment of the warring parties and reiterates the need for an immediate ceasefire and lifting of the blockade of Yemen. While all those involved may be playing cruel geopolitical games, it is the people of Yemen — millions of them hungry and sick — who are paying with their lives. To prevent further suffering, the Yemen war must be brought to a close swiftly.
Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2018