The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has rejected a UN report which said some of its attacks may amount to war crimes. The report contained many inaccuracies, a coalition statement carried by the Saudi state news agency said. In the document, UN human rights experts said they believed war crimes may have been committed by all parties.
They accused Yemeni government forces, the coalition backing them, and the rebel Houthi movement of making little effort to minimise civilian casualties. They pointed to attacks on residential areas in which thousands of people had died. The warring parties are also accused of arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and recruiting children.
The coalition says it has co-operated in an “open and transparent manner” with the UN group since they began working in December 2017. It says “false allegations” have been made against it based on “misleading reports by some non-governmental organisations”. These include claims that it had targeted civilians, restricted humanitarian aid and carried out arbitrary detentions.
The statement also expresses “surprise for the report’s disregard of the great humanitarian role played by the coalition states in Yemen, and the huge humanitarian assistance it has provided in order to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people”.
The fighting and a partial blockade by the coalition has also left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world’s largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have affected 1.1 million people. The report says civilians, including women and children, have been hit by shelling and sniper attacks by the Houthis and other parties while in their homes, fetching water at local wells, or on their way to purchase food or seek medical attention. They have also urged the international community to “refrain from providing arms that could be used in the conflict” – an apparent reference to Western countries, which are selling weapons to the coalition, and to Iran, which the coalition alleges is smuggling weapons to the Houthis.