Human rights violations

Funeral bombing - video of aftermath

Mobile phone video shows shock and grief in aftermath of Saudi air strike on Yemeni funeral on 8 October 2016

Watch video here

A Roar at a Funeral, and Yemen’s War Is Altered

By SHUAIB ALMOSAWA and BEN HUBBARD for The New York Times

SANA, Yemen — Large speakers played verses from the Quran as hundreds of mourners filed through the fanciest reception hall in Sana, the capital, to pay their respects to a prominent family after the death of its patriarch.

Then there was a roar, the hall shook, and the guests were knocked to the floor and enveloped in fire and smoke. Some rushed for the exits as parts of the ceiling collapsed, trapping others under the rubble.

“We did not think they would attack a funeral,” said Abdulla al-Shamy, 27, a clothing salesman who was in the hall at the time. “We did not think they would be so vile.”

The attack on Saturday, which Yemeni officials and witnesses said was a series of airstrikes by the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, killed more than 100 people and unleashed political forces that could drastically change the course of Yemen’s war.

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Airstrike kills more than 100, injures hundreds at Yemen funeral

Washington Post article by Ali Al-Mujahed and Sudarsan Raghavan

SANAA, Yemen — An airstrike by a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds more at a funeral Saturday, according to Health Ministry officials and medical groups. With the death toll expected to rise, it was one of the deadliest single assaults in the 20-month-old civil conflict that has fractured the Middle East’s poorest country.

Witnesses said at least three airstrikes hit the Grand Hall, one of the biggest arenas in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, as mourners gathered inside to attend a funeral for the father of a top rebel Houthi official. In attendance were senior political and military officials aligned with the Houthis and hundreds of civilians, according to witnesses.

As explosions rocked the hall at around 3:30 p.m., chaos ensued as people tried to rush toward the exits. Many jumped through a large opening in a wall that had crumbled, said Mohammed Ahmed al-Sunaidar, an Interior Ministry employee. He was just arriving at the hall and ran inside to help survivors.

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US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check

No legitimate reason for attacks on Yemen hospitals, says aid group

By Schams Elwazer and Elizabeth Roberts, CNN

Doctors Without Borders said there was no legitimate reason for attacks on two medical facilities it supported in Yemen that killed 20 people and caused the group to pull out of the country.

On Monday the humanitarian group -- also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) -- released the results of investigations into airstrikes on a hospital in Abs in August and on a clinic in Taiz last December.

MSF said its investigation showed that "the neutrality and impartiality of the facilities had not been compromised before the attacks and therefore there was no legitimate reason to attack them."

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(includes videos)

From the Margin of Life into the Heart of War

This documentary, from Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, focuses one of several Saudi airstrikes that destroyed civilian homes and killed members of the "Muhammashin (Marginalized)" social class.

Watch the video here

Boris Johnson defends UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Article by Patrick Wintour for theguardian

Foreign secretary says breaches of international law during Yemen airstrikes were not proven, as MPs prepare to call for ban on UK exports

The British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has defended UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen is not “in clear breach” of international humanitarian law.

This week MPs will decide whether to call for a ban on arms sales to Saudi in light of allegations of indiscriminate bombing by the Saudi-led coalition during the 18-month-old Yemen civil war.

In a written statement to parliament, Johnson says: “The key test for our continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia in relation to international humanitarian law is whether those weapons might be used in a commission of a serious breach of international humanitarian law. Having regard to all the information available to us, we assess this test has not been met.”

His judgment is based largely on an Saudi-led inquiry into eight controversial incidents, including the bombing of hospitals. The report, published on 4 August, largely defended the bombing runs on the basis that the Saudis had received credible intelligence that enemy Houthi forces were in the area. In one case it offered compensation to the victims.

Defending the credibility of a Saudi-led inquiry exonerating Saudi targeting, Johnson said: “They have the best insight into their own procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations. It will also allow the coalition forces to work out what went wrong and apply the lessons learned in the best possible way. This is the standard we set ourselves and our allies.”

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Don't just condemn humanitarian law violations. Stop them

Article by MP Stephen Twigg for theguardian

In the name of war, hospitals and camps for stranded people have been bombed. Leaders at the world humanitarian summit must hold those responsible to account

The recent airstrike on a camp for Syrians displaced from their homes is the latest in a long line of tragedies resulting from the disregard that certain parties to conflict hold for international humanitarian law.

The UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, the UN high commissioner for human rights, the French foreign ministry, the White House and many others have all spoken out against this horrific attack, yet frustrations abound with the inability of the international community to stop them from happening.

While a recent resolution from the UN security council condemning attacks against medical facilities and their staff is welcome, it is only the starting point. Condemning violations is not enough – they must be stopped.

This frustration has prompted the withdrawal of the highly respected Médecins Sans Frontières‎ (MSF), one of the integral cogs in the humanitarian system, from participation in the first world humanitarian summit, due to take place in Istanbul this month.

MSF staff work in harrowing conditions on the frontlines of humanitarian response – in cities like Aleppo, Kunduz and Taiz – and this level of commitment can cost them their lives.

In announcing their withdrawal, MSF said: “We no longer have any hope that the summit will address the weaknesses in humanitarian action and emergency response, particularly in conflict areas or epidemic situations.”

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90 Seconds: Leaked UN panel report on Yemen

Summary video by Middle East Eye:



UN: UK fuelling Yemen civil war with arms sales to Saudi Arabia


UK's International Development Committee - Government and stakeholders questioned on humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Wednesday 27 January 2016, Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster

The International Development Committee hears from non-governmental organisations and from Department of International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the UK Government's response.

Purpose of the session
This session covers the scale of the crisis and how effectively DFID and other strands of Government have responded to protect civilians and ensure adherence to international humanitarian law.

Watch the video here

View a written transcript of the meetings here

MY COMMENT
This is a video of two one-hour meetings. If you have the time to watch it, it gives an invaluable insight into the UK's response to the Yemen Crisis.

In the first meeting at 1pm, the committee questions a panel of four expert witnesses on the Yemen crisis, as follows:

Julien Harneis, Head of UNICEF Yemen
Josephine Hutton, Regional Programme Manager, Middle East, Oxfam
Grant Pritchard, Director of Advocacy, Media and Communications on Yemen, Save the Children
Roy Isbister, Head of Arms Unit, Saferworld

I found this meeting encouraging in that it demonstrates that DfID (the Department for International Development) has a real desire to understand the facts about Yemen and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people. However, it is also very clear from this meeting that the UK has a paradoxical policy towards Yemen. On the one hand, DfID is providing humanitarian assistance. On the other hand, the policy of the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to support the Saudi-led coalition and to continue its licencing of arms sales to Saudi is undermining the efforts of DfID. The first meeting makes it very clear that the UK must stop its arms sales to Saudi.


In the second meeting at 2.00pm, the committee questions the following members of the UK government:

Rt Hon Desmond Swayne MP, Minister of State for International Development
Juliette John, Head of DFID Yemen, Department for International Development
Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nicholas Alton, Deputy Head of Arabian Peninsula and Iran, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

This second meeting is very disappointing in that it demonstrates the government's clear and unwavering support for the Saudi-led coalition, as well as justification for its refusal to support the Dutch call for an independent enquiry into human rights violations in Yemen. The meeting closes with the chair saying, "On that rather unsatisfactory note, I think we have run out of time", which about says it all.


Yemen: the devastation of a nation, largely ignored

Article by Labour MP Stephen Twigg for theguardian

We are waiting to see when we will die” – the words of a resident of the besieged city of Taiz in Yemen, retold by a British Yemeni at a meeting with cross-party MPs in Westminster last week.

Taiz has been under siege by rebels for months, cut off from humanitarian aid, with no electricity, no schools, and where the vast majority of health facilities have closed.

Britain’s international development committee (IDC) had invited representatives of the Yemeni diaspora to contribute to our inquiry into the crisis in Yemen. We were shocked to hear about the desperate situation in Taiz, which bears a worrying resemblance to Madaya in Syria. But the world is watching Syria while the crisis in Yemen is largely ignored.

The crisis is having a devastating effect on the whole country. According to the UN (pdf), an astonishing 82% of the population needs humanitarian assistance - 21.2 million people, compared with 12.2 million in Syria. The food situation is particularly concerning, with 14.4 million people struggling to find enough to eat, including 1.3 million children who are acutely malnourished. Millions cannot access safe water or basic healthcare and 1.8 million children are out of school. The Yemeni diaspora described the situation as collective punishment, with the population being punished for the actions of the rebels.

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Saudi-led airstrike kills family of 8, incl. Yemeni judge who presided over Pres. Hadi treason case

RT article:

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A woman walks past the house of court judge Yahya Rubaid after a Saudi-led air strike destroyed it, killing him, his wife and five other family members, in Yemen's capital Sanaa January 25, 2016 © Khaled Abdullah / Reuters



A Houthi-appointed national security court judge and seven members of his family were killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in the Yemini capital Sanaa, according to local residents.

The Sunday bombing partially destroyed the home of Yahya Rubaid, a judge who had prosecuted cases against militant groups including Al-Qaeda. He had also presided over treason cases against President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and other ousted opponents of the Houthis.

Seven members of Rubaid's family – everyone except one of his sons – were also killed in the bombing, residents told Reuters.

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MSF paramedic, civilian first responders killed in Saudi double-tap airstrike in Yemen

RT Article and video:

Almost two dozen people, including civilian rescuers and an ambulance driver from an MSF-affiliated hospital, have reportedly been killed after Saudi-led coalition planes carried out repeated airstrikes on the same target in Sa’ada province, Yemen.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) confirmed the fatal air raids in Sa’ada, saying the “planes went back to bomb areas already hit.”

The incident took place in the town of Dhayan, about 20 kilometers from the city of Sa’ada and not far from another MSF-supported hospital, Shiara, which was hit by a missile on January 10.



Above video shows 'double-tap' airstrikes - double bombings in short succession where the second strike targets the rescuers of those injured in the first.


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Yemen: Another MSF-supported hospital bombed

Report by MSF (Medicin Sans Frontieres):

Sana’a – An MSF-supported hospital has been hit by a projectile in northern Yemen resulting in at least four deaths, 10 injured and the collapse of several buildings of the medical facility. Three of the injured are MSF staff, two in critical condition.

“All warring parties, including the Saudi-led coalition (SLC), are regularly informed of the GPS coordinates of the medical sites where MSF works and we are in constant dialogue with them to ensure that they understand the severity of the humanitarian consequences of the conflict and the need to respect the provision of medical services”, says Raquel Ayora, Director of Operations. “There is no way that anyone with the capacity to carry out an airstrike or launch a rocket would not have known that the Shiara hospital was a functioning health facility providing critical services and supported by MSF”.

“We reiterate to all parties to the conflict that patients and medical facilities must be respected and that bombing hospitals is a violation of International Humanitarian Law”, says Ayora.

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Yemen Crisis: How bad is the humanitarian situation?

BBC News article:

UN officials have warned that the already desperate humanitarian situation in Yemen has severely deteriorated over the last eight months. How bad is it?

The country is experiencing 'a humanitarian catastrophe'. That was the frank assessment of the UN's Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, on 19 August.

The UN said on 12 November that at least 5,878 people had been killed and 27,867 others had been wounded since the escalation in March of the conflict between forces loyal to the exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.

The destruction of infrastructure and restrictions on imports imposed by a Saudi-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the rebels have led to 21.2 million people being deprived of life-sustaining commodities and basic services.

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Bombing of schools by Saudi Arabia-led coalition a flagrant attack on future of Yemen's children

Amnesty International report and video:

Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces have carried out a series of air strikes targeting schools that were still in use, in violation of international humanitarian law, and hampering access to education for thousands of Yemen’s children, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today. The coalition forces are armed by states including the USA and UK.

The briefing ‘Our kids are bombed’: Schools under attack in Yemen, investigates five air strikes on schools which took place between August and October 2015 killing five civilians and injuring at least 14, including four children, based on field research in Yemen. While students were not present inside the schools during the attacks, the strikes caused serious damage or destruction which will have long-term consequences for students.

“The Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched a series of unlawful air strikes on schools being used for educational – not for military – purposes, a flagrant violation of the laws of war,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International who recently returned from Yemen.

Read the report here

Download the full briefing 'Our kids are bombed: Schools under attack in Yemen'.

View Amnesty International's video, 'Yemen: Bombing of schools by Saudi Arabia-led coalition'.

Civilian Deaths in Yemen Won't Stop a Billion-Dollar US Arms Deal With Saudi Arabia

Vice News article by Samuel Oakford:

The US State Department has signed off on the sale of $1.29 billion worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, including tens of thousands of bombs that will restock a Saudi arms stockpile depleted by the country's air campaign in Yemen, which has been linked to civilian deaths.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized Washington's support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, where the UN says coalition airstrikes have killed more than 1,000 civilians. Monday's announced deal, which still requires rubber stamping from Congress, indicates those concerns have had little effect on weapons sales.

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Philip Hammond says he wants UK to sell even more weapons to Saudi Arabia

Article for The Independent by Jon Stone:

Britain should sell more weapons to the Saudi Arabian regime despite the fact they are being used by the country as part of its military operations in Yemen, the Foreign Secretary has said.

Philip Hammond said he was aware that human rights violations by Saudi Arabian forces operating in the country had been reported but said the Saudis denied these allegations.

Saudi Arabia has been blockading Yemen since March this year and is launching airstrikes in the country’s territory.

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