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UN rights chief urges parties in Yemen to end conflict

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein[official profile] on Friday criticized [press release] the Saudi Arabian coalition forces in Yemen for the more than 3,000 civilian casualties resulting from the conflict in just the past year. The High Commissioner said, "[l]ooking at the figures, it would seem that the coalition is responsible for twice as many civilian casualties as all other forces put together, virtually all as a result of airstrikes." The UN called for transparency on behalf of the forces and for an investigation into the attacks. According to Zeid, the indiscriminate attacks on non-military targets and lack of prevention of such attacks could amount to war crimes. Zeid also condemned the Houthis for their part in the casualties, calling for both sides to "swallow their pride and bring this conflict to a halt."

The rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen has sparked significant international concern. Earlier this week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned [JURIST report] that the use of cluster bombs by the Saudi-led coalition against neighborhoods in Yemen may amount to a war crime. Also this month the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said [JURIST report] that the civilian death toll in Yemen has reached nearly 2,800 over nine months of fighting. In January the UN World Food Programme appealed to all the parties involved in the Yemen conflict to allow the safe passage of food [JURIST report] to the city of Taiz. In October Amnesty International called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes surrounding the destruction of a hospital [JURIST report] run by Doctors Without Borders [advocacy website] in Yemen.

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