Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen

Who said Houthi militants were partially to blame for using civilian sites for military purposes?

On 5 January 2016, an airstrike by the Saudi-led military coalition hit the Al Noor Center for Care and Rehabilitation of Blind, in the Safiah district of Sanaʽa, the capital's only center, school, and home for people with visual disabilities. Five people were injured. Human Rights Watch and media reported, if the bomb had exploded, the damage would have been much worse. Human Rights Watch blamed both the Saudi-led coalition for hitting civilian targets and the Houthi militants battling the coalition. HRW said Houthi militants were partially to blame for using civilian sites for military purposes. Armed Houthis were stationed near the Al Noor center, putting the students at risk.

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  • On 6 July airstrikes killed over 100 people including more than 30 civilians in Al Joob, Amran. The state-run news agency said that 40 had been killed in a raid on a livestock market in al-Foyoush. Local residents also reported 30 deaths in a raid they said apparently targeted a Houthi checkpoint on the main road between Aden and Lahj. They said 10 of the dead were Houthi fighters. MSF head of mission in Yemen said "It is unacceptable that airstrikes take place in highly concentrated civilian areas where people are gathering and going about their daily lives, especially at a time such as Ramadan."

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  • NATO powers such as the United Kingdom and the United States support the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen primarily through arms sales and technical assistance. France had also made recent military sales to Saudi Arabia. MSF emergency coordinator Karline Kleijer called the US, France and the UK part of the Saudi-led coalition, which imposed the weapons embargo and blocked all ships from entering Yemen with supplies. Rights groups have criticized the countries for supplying arms, and accuse the coalition of using cluster munitions, which are banned in most countries. Oxfam pointed out that Germany, Iran, and Russia have also reportedly sold arms to the conflicting forces. Tariq Riebl, head of programmes in Yemen for Oxfam, said, "it's difficult to argue that a weapon sold to Saudi Arabia would not in some way be used in Yemen," or "if it's not used in Yemen it enables the country to use other weapons in Yemen." Amnesty International urged the US and the UK to stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia and to the Saudi-led coalition. On August 3, 2019, a United Nations report said the US, UK and France may be complicit in committing war crimes in Yemen by selling weapons and providing support to the Saudi-led coalition which is using the deliberate starvation of civilians as a tactic of warfare. Arms sale by United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in 2019 reportedly soared by £1bn, i.e. 300%, in comparison to the figures in 2018. Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade condemned the increase and criticized the UK arms industry of being dominated by human rights abusers and dictatorships. UK-made fighter jets have been accused of causing catastrophic damage in Yemen. According to a May 28, 2020 article by The New York Times, the Trump administration in January 2020 told lawmakers that it was planning to sell a cache of munitions to Saudi Arabia, despite the kingdom’s human rights record. Reportedly, the sale of the said $478 million, precision-guided missiles used in Yemen war to Saudi, and approval of licenses permitting Raytheon to expand manufacturing in Riyadh are objected by lawmakers in both, Democrats and Republican parties.

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  • At the beginning of May 2015, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said, that there had been "severe destruction of civilian infrastructure, including houses, in many districts" since 26 March. Severe damage caused by attacks on Yemen's essential civilian infrastructure such as airports in Sanaʽa and Hodeida by the Saudi-led military coalition was obstructing the delivery of much-needed humanitarian assistance and movement of humanitarian personnel according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

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  • On 17 January 2016, the freelance Yemeni journalist Almigdad Mojalli was killed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition in Jaref, a Houthi-controlled district in the outskirts of Sanaʽa. Mojalli had gone there, working for Voice of America (VOA), to interview survivors of air strikes in Jaref in which up to 21 civilians had been killed days earlier. Rory Peck Trust honored him as "key source of information for visiting journalists" in Yemen. Daniel Martin Varisco, President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies and Research Professor at Qatar University, said in an obituary that Mojalli's work "was a voice documenting the humanitarian crisis that the world outside Yemen has largely ignored" and a voice that "has been silenced". RSF, CPJ, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Yemen Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) and UNESCO condemned Mojalli's death. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and RSF reminded all the parties to the armed conflict in Yemen that they were required to respect and ensure the safety of all journalists by UN Security Council Resolution 2222, adopted in 2015, and by the Geneva Conventions.

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