Yemen: Civilians at mercy of sniping, shelling and airstrikes – Zeid
High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. (UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)
GENEVA (12 February 2018) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday voiced alarm at continuing civilian casualties in Yemen as hostilities increase and spread.
“The upsurge in fighting in the south-western Governorate of Taizz is of particular concern. Civilians are under fire on all sides, as Houthi and affiliated forces carry out sniper attacks and indiscriminate shelling, and the Saudi-led Coalition continues to conduct airstrikes. For the civilians in the city of Taizz, the conflict is not just escalating but inescapable,” said Zeid.
Among the incidents verified by the UN Human Rights Office, three children were killed when Houthi forces shelled Usayfrah in Al Qahirah district in Northern Taizz on 6 February. On 8 February, a woman working as a field monitor for the Yemen National Commission of Inquiry, Reeham Badr Al Dhubhani, was killed in shelling by Houthi forces on Al-Lasb area in Salh district.
“Reeham Badr Al Dhubhani had received training from my Office in carrying out human rights monitoring, and we send our profound condolences to her family and friends. We grieve her, as we grieve for all the thousands of Yemenis whose lives have been destroyed by this bitter conflict,” said the High Commissioner.
Increased armed clashes in Taizz between Houthi-affiliated forces and those loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in recent weeks have also fuelled fears that the violence will spread from suburban areas of Taizz City to other neighbourhoods, including the densely populated area of Alhuban.
Between 1 and 8 February, the UN Human Rights Office verified that 27 people were killed and 76 injured in Yemen – more than double the number of civilian casualties confirmed during the previous week. The actual figures are likely to be higher. Most of the casualties were attributed almost equally to the warring parties – 48 to the Coalition, and 51 to the Houthi forces. Two were killed by drones, one by Al Qaeda and in one case the perpetrator is unknown.
During this period, the UN Human Rights Office also documented sniping and indiscriminate shelling by Houthi forces in frontline areas in Hudaydah and Hajja Governorates, and airstrikes by the Coalition on areas under the control of the Houthi forces, including in Sana’a, Sa’ada, Hudaydah and Amran Governorates.
Eight civilians, including a woman and a child, were killed and 32 injured on 4 February when three airstrikes hit a Ministry of the Interior building in Thahban area, Bani Al Harith district, in Amanat Al Asimah Governorate. UN Human Rights Office monitors who visited the scene said there did not appear to be any military objects near the building, which had previously been hit in January 2016.
“The parties to this conflict are obliged to take constant care to spare the civilian population, respecting the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. I remind them that any intentional, direct attack against civilians or civilian objects is considered a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and that they should take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event, minimise, the impact of violence on civilians,” the High Commissioner said.
Since March 2015 and as of 8 February, the UN Human Rights office had documented 15,467 civilian casualties, with 5,974 killed and 9,493 injured.