August 2015, Amnesty International: 'Nowhere Safe for Civilians': Airstrikes and Ground Attacks in Yemen (PDF)
AUG. 18, 2015
Amnesty International Says All Sides in Yemen Have Committed War Crimes
By RICK GLADSTONE
Amnesty International issued a scathing report  Tuesday on the Yemen conflict, accusing all armed antagonists there of complicity in war crimes, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
The report, "Nowhere Safe for Civilians," called on the United Nations to establish a panel of inquiry to "independently and impartially investigate alleged war crimes committed during the conflict."
Donatella Rovera, a senior researcher for Amnesty who has worked in many conflict zones, said in the report that neither the Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen nor the pro- and anti-rebel fighters on the ground had shown respect for noncombatants.
"All the parties to this conflict have displayed a ruthless and wanton disregard for the safety of civilians," Ms. Rovera said.
Amnesty said in the report that it had investigated eight airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its allies during a research mission in Yemen in June and July. It also investigated 30 attacks in the cities of Aden and Taiz by the Houthi rebel fighters and their allies, who include forces loyal to Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Saudi-led coalition, Ms. Rovera said in the report, had "blatantly failed to take necessary precautions to minimize civilian casualties, an obligation under international humanitarian law."
All ground fighters, the report said, have "routinely used imprecise weapons, including Grad-type rockets, mortars and artillery fire, in densely populated residential areas."
In a second report  about the Yemen crisis, Unicef reported Tuesday that an average of eight children are killed or maimed every day in the country, and that nearly 400 have been killed and more than 600 wounded over the past five months.
"Children are being killed by bombs or bullets, and those that survive face the growing threat of disease and malnutrition," Unicef's representative in Yemen, Julien Harneis, said. "This cannot be allowed to continue."
The Amnesty and Unicef reports were released as heavy airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition hit Yemen's Red Sea port of Hodeida, the main gateway for trade and emergency supplies to north and central Yemen.
Jamal Ayesh, the port director in Hodeida, said that the airstrikes hit after midnight, destroying the only five cranes in the port. He said that hangars used for maintenance and storing goods were also destroyed. "We can say that the cranes are out of service now," he said.
Lloyd's List, a London-based news service for the insurance industry, said Hodeida had closed  because of the airstrikes.
Edward Santiago, the Yemen director for Save the Children, said in a statement  that the full extent of the damage to Hodeida was unclear, but that "the impact of these latest airstrikes will be felt most strongly by innocent children and families."
Mr. Santiago called the Hodeida bombing "the final straw."
More than 4,000 people have been killed in Yemen, the Middle East's poorest country, since March, when the Saudis began bombing Houthi rebels who had driven the Saudi-backed government into exile. Saudi Arabia views the Houthis as proxies of Iran, its regional rival.
Yemen is now one of the world's most acute humanitarian catastrophes, with 80 percent of the population in dire need of food and other emergency relief.
The Houthis have suffered a series of defeats in the past month and have been driven out of the southern port of Aden by fighters aligned with the exiled government.
Although the Houthis still control Sana, the capital, exiled Yemeni officials are predicting  that they will reclaim it within weeks.
Shuaib Almosawa contributed reporting from Sana, Yemen, and Kareem Fahim from Cairo.