All participants in the Yemen conflict have “left a bloody trail of death and destruction” across the southern cities of Ta’iz and Aden and may have committed war crimes, Amnesty global said Tuesday.
The anti-Houthi forces on the ground backed by Saudi Arabia, known as Popular Resistance Committees, are composed of military units loyal to Hadi, members of the Islamist Islah party, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, separatist fighters from the Southern Movement, and fighters from both Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State (ISIS).
While emphasizing the urgent need to end the conflict once and for all, the Fund reiterated its call on all parties to respect their obligations under global humanitarian law and to stop targeting civilians and crucial infrastructure like schools, water and health facilities.
An Amnesty report said it had investigated eight coalition air strikes in Yemen that killed 141 civilians, including children.
A group of Houthi fighters are shown next to the stone, one standing on top of it and holding a Yemeni flag.
Yemen’s exiled government accuses the Houthis of hijacking aid. “All the parties to this conflict have displayed a ruthless and wanton disregard for the safety of civilians”, said Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty.
All officials and witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters or for fear of reprisals.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticized the recent Saudi-led airstrikes on the Houthi-occupied cities and urged for a cease-fire to ease civilian suffering.
A civil war in Yemen erupted in late March when the Iran-allied Houthis, who had seized the capital Sanaa last September, drove southwards, forcing the government to flee into exile in Saudi Arabia and triggering a Gulf military intervention.
Ertharin Cousin, the head of the U.N.’s World Food Program, warned after a three-day visit to the country that the violence and near-blockade by Arab forces may push already widespread hunger out of control. The coalition, in which the United Arab Emirates also plays a big military role, has accused the Houthis of commandeering aid shipments for war use.
The relief effort is hampered by a lack of funding, with only 18 percent of the $1.6 billion requested for Yemen raised so far, he said.
Saudi-Arabia-led airstrikes and fighting between Houthi rebels and pro-government groups in the two towns have killed more than 200 civilians, including dozens of children, the group said in a new report.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed grave concern at the high number of civilian casualties in Yemen, and informed the Human Rights Council at its 29th session in June 2015, that his Office has “received information suggesting that indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks are being used on densely populated areas”.
Amnesty worldwide says killings of civilians in Taiz and Aden could amount to war crimes.