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Long-Lane: Air Bombardment of the Civilian Population in Yemen

A little material about what happens where there is no eye for democracy and the right to human life. A bit about the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, where more than 20 million people need help.

The Yemeni boy looks at his ruined house, after an air strike, led by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. Photo: @m_almoayed (twitter)

Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, has been bombing Yemen since March 2015. The purpose of the coalition is to restore the power of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Of the many thousands of flights carried out by them since the beginning of the conflict, only a few of them were investigated, despite the fact that more than a third of all bombs fell into civilian objects. In 2016, the United Nations made the alliance of Saudi Arabia and the UAE blacklisted the “blacklist” of states and groups that violate the rights of children

UN, your silence is killing us – posters with such inscriptions were kept by women and children who gathered for a protest in the capital of Yemen, Sanaa. The demonstration took place near the office of the United Nations. Participants in the rally called for peace and demanded to stop the air raids of the international coalition led by Saudi Arabia. August 2018

According to the UN, in June and July of this year, Saudi Arabia and the UAE made more than 350 air raids on Yemen, almost a third of which were directed against non-military targets. The UN refugee agency reported that more than 450 civilians were killed in Yemen in the first nine days of August because of the conflict in the country. August 9, 2018 news feeds around the world flew news: in Yemen, a bus exploded , killing 50 people, most of the children. More than 60 people were injured. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the car was attacked when it was traveling alongside a crowded market in the hushite-controlled area of ​​Sa’ada province, which borders Saudi Arabia.

Statement by the representative of the ICRC in Yemen: according to local officials, a total of 50 people were killed and 77 were injured. Of these, 30 dead and 48 wounded entered the ICRC hospital in Al Thalh, of which the vast majority were children. Children should not pay the price for a very adult war. #NotATarget

The ICRC official statement: After the morning attack on the bus, in which the children were traveling to the market of Dahyan, North Saada, the hospital @ICRC_yemen received dozens of dead and wounded. In accordance with international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during the conflict.

Many years later, the alliance of Saudi Arabia and the UAE published a statement in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabia network, which said that they did attack Saad, but aimed at missile launchers.

Today’s attack in Sa’ada was a legitimate military operation. It conformed to international and humanitarian laws.

Colonel Turki al-Malki
press secretary of the military committee of the coalition
The Yemeni boy is in the hospital after he was injured by an air strike in Sa’ada. Photo: REUTERS

The air strike in Sa’ade occurred less than a week after the air strike, where dozens of people died, hospitals in the city of Hodeida. As a result of the attack, 56 people were killed and more than 100 were injured. All of the dead were civilians.

Despite the harshness of its initial statement, under pressure from the international community, Saudi Arabia has promised to conduct an investigation. As a result, a small press release was issued in which it was reported that the aerial bombardment of the vehicle was unnecessarily unnecessary. And that this press release on the outcome of the investigation should not be considered an apology.

There was no legal punishment by international organizations and the UN Security Council. The UN, in the person of UNICEF, did not even open a separate investigation into the incident. In the United States, as one of Saudi Arabia’s key partners, some members of the Congress in the United States called on the army of the country to clarify its role in the war and to find out if air raid support can lead to American servicemen being held accountable under the War Crimes Act . The US promised to reduce military support if civilian casualties grow.

UN: every 10 minutes in Yemen, one child dies.

This statement was made by a high-ranking UN official. The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Lisa Grande, warned at the end of the high-level meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that another ten million people will face conditions close to total starvation by the end of this year, unless the situation changes. She explained that three-quarters of the population of Yemen needed some form of protection and assistance. For their part, the Deputy Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lawkok appealed to the world community to help the people of Yemen.

An exhausted boy lies on a bed in the malnourished section of Al-Sabine Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, September 10, 2018. Photo: REUTERS

11 million children, or about 80 percent of the population under the age of 18, face the threat of food shortages, disease, displacement and acute lack of access to basic social services

Merithell Relano
UNICEF Representative in Yemen

The whole world spit on Yemen

Despite the terrible news background and increased international pressure, the Saudi regime was able to count on the uncritical political and military support of some countries. One of them is the United Kingdom, which armed and supported the bombardment at every turn.

At the beginning of the war (2015), then-Foreign Minister Philip Hammond promised that Britain would support the Saudis in all practical ways, apart from participating in hostilities. This support was unshakable, and the government allotted nearly 5 billion pounds sterling in subsequent years. There is no doubt that these weapons were used in attacks on civilian infrastructure. Thorough investigations and authoritative reports from Human Rights Watch , Sky News and Amnesty International directly link British weapons with attacks on civilian targets.

In a 40-page report from Amnesty International (.pdf) “Day and night from the sky bombs fall: civilians under fire in northern Yemen are considered 13 deadly air strikes coalition in the city of Saada in north-west Yemen from May to July 2015, which killed about 100 civilians, including 59 children, and the use of prohibited cluster bombs.

The coalition air strikes investigated by the Amnesty International organization in Sa’ada are associated with serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.
In this context, with the intensification of the air campaign, and a clear picture of serious violations of international humanitarian law for several months, we call upon states, including the United States and Britain, that supply arms to Saudi Arabia and the coalition, to suspend all arms deliveries, Yemen: general-purpose bombs, fighter jets, combat
helicopters, parts and their components.

From the report of Amnesty International (2015)

Foreign governments continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia after the start of the air campaign, despite the growing body of evidence that the coalition used these weapons in illegal air strikes. All countries that sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Canada, should suspend the sale of weapons until it ceases not only its illegal air strikes in Yemen, but also does not begin to reliably investigate alleged violations.

From the report of Human Rights Watch (July 2016)

In 2016, after several months of denial, the Saudi military had to admit that they had used British-made cluster bombs for aerial bombardment of civilian infrastructure.

The decision to stop the use of cluster bombs followed the internal investigation of Saudi Arabia, conducted during negotiations with Britain. This recognition was made prior to the statement by British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who acknowledged that cluster bombs supplied by Britain were used by Saudi forces. While the UK ceased production of cluster bombs in 1989 and signed a convention banning their use in 2008, neither Saudi Arabia nor the US signed the convention. Since Great Britain is an ally of both sides, and the convention says that the signatories do not need to help or incite the countries using them, the legal position of this situation remains unclear.

Recent surveys in the UK showed that only 13 percent of the population of the United Kingdom supports the sale of weapons to Saudi military forces. That is why hundreds of people took to the streets in protest when, in February 2018, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed ibn Salman Al Saud arrived in London.

The visit, which included meetings with the queen, Theresa May and Prince William, culminated in the announcement that both sides had moved one step closer to agreeing a deal on Eurofighter military aircraft. The deal, which would cost billions of pounds, has already received support at the highest level from British ministers and civil servants.

The approach, which provided for providing ingratiating and uncritical support in exchange for the sale of weapons, was generalized last year by then-Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon. Speaking before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Commons, he urged the deputies not to criticize the activities of the Saudi government in the field of human rights and the conduct of war in Yemen in case it affects them. Approval of arms sales for $ 250 million happened a few months later (in July 2017) after an extremely brutal air attack on the funeral hall in the capital of Yemen, where 140 civilians were killed and about 100 others were injured.

At present, there is evidence that Saudi Arabia did not selectively target civilians in Yemen. Nevertheless, the government shamefully sold millions of pounds of British weapons to the Saudi regime, as if nothing happened (July 2017).

Joe Swinson
representative of the Liberal Democratic Party for Foreign Affairs
Funeral hall in Saad after the air raid. October 2016.

After this air strike, British Trade Minister Liam Fox delayed the signing of a number of export licenses, and his officials were preparing to suspend sales to Saudi Arabia. However, the documents received by the Guardian showed that Foreign Minister Boris Johnson advised him to continue selling, because, in his opinion, there is no clear risk that British weapons will be used for serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Such a policy of Great Britain reflects the triumph of economic interests over the lives of ordinary people.

Every time these things happen, the ministers assure everyone that it happened by mistake. Very rarely, for example, as in the case of an air raid on a bus, the representative of the Saudi coalition eventually acknowledges his guilt. But nothing changes. War and air strikes continue. Like the death of civilians.

PS The coalition, consisting of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, will open humanitarian corridors for the civilian population in the Yemeni city of Hodeida. This decision was agreed with the UN as the outcome of numerous meetings, at which the situation in Yemen was discussed.

The material is not completely copyrighted, while preparing the article, materials from various media

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