Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Saudi Arabia-led coalition of engaging in “war crimes” in the Civil War at Yemen.
A military intervention was launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015, to influence the Civil War in Yemen.
Code-named “Operation Decisive Storm”, it consisted of a bombing campaign on Houthi Rebels. Later there was a naval blockade and the deployment of ground force. The Saudi-led coalition has attacked the positions of the Houthi militia and loyalists of the former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, supposedly supported by Iran.
A two-year Saudi-led campaign has damaged infrastructure and caused shortage of medicine in one of the most poorest Arab country.
The Yemen war has led to 10,000 deaths and more than 3 million people have been displaced. According to United Nations Food Program, nearly half of Yemen’s population is on a verge of famine.
Additionally, the region is grappling with an ongoing cholera epidemic. It has been billed as the “largest ever” outbreak. There were over 360,000 suspected cases in the three months since the outbreak began.
Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi Arabia of “war crimes” for its actions in the Yemeni Civil War. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch in a statement noted, “The Saudi-led coalition’s repeated promises to conduct its air strikes lawfully are not sparing Yemeni children from unlawful attacks. This underscores the need for the United Nations to immediately return the coalition to its annual “list of shame” for violations against children in armed conflict.”
The HRW is not the only organization criticizing Saudi Arabia. A review by United Nations stated that Saudi Arabia-led military coalition caused an "unacceptably high" number of child deaths and injuries. Jonathan Allen, deputy UK ambassador to the UN said, “We call on all sides to avoid any civilian casualties and particularly that of children. And in Yemen, we particularly call on all sides to permit humanitarian access because the situation there is deeply concerning.”
Saudi Arabia has denied all allegations of war crimes. It has said that its actions were targeted towards Houthi rebels. The nation has also said that it does not attack any Yemeni civilians. However, recently there were reports of a coalition aircraft that struck a home in Saada. The attack, that took place on August 4th, 2017, resulted in the deaths of nine members of a family. This included six children.
Our assessment is that Saudi Arabia will eventually have to address the criticisms from the international community. As the war in Yemen continues to rage on, it is the civilian lives that are at stake at the heart of it.