[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Sunday that it has received credible evidence indicating that the Saudi-led coalition used illegal cluster munitions [press release] supplied by the US in airstrikes against Houthi forces in Yemen. According to a report by HRW, satellite imagery indicates that the munitions landed “within 600 meters of several dozen buildings in four to six village clusters.” Cluster bombs spread bomblets over a wide area, many of which do not immediately explode, allowing the bomblets to kill or maim civilians long after a conflict ends. They were prohibited by a 2008 treaty adopted by 116 countries, not including Saudi Arabia, Yemen or the US. Saudi Arabia has denied using cluster munitions during its month-long campaign against the rebels in Yemen.
The rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen has sparked significant international concern. Last week the UN reported that the intense fighting in Yemen has claimed the lives of 551 civilians [JURIST report], including 115 children. Last month HRW condemned the targeting of the Ibn Khaldun Hospital in Yemen [JURIST report]. Also last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged Yemeni combatants to report attacks resulting in civilian casualties [JURIST report] so that they can be investigated and international human rights law can be upheld. Also in April the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) [advocacy websites] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] on behalf of US citizens still in Yemen against the US State Department and the Department of Defense for allegedly failing to launch an evacuation plan. The same week, in a unanimous vote, Pakistani lawmakers passed a resolution [JURIST report] to stay out of the conflict in Yemen, despite pleas from Saudi Arabia for aid in the form of warships, aircraft and ground troops. UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Chaloka Beyani urged [JURIST report] the international community to prepare itself for the “massive displacement and humanitarian crisis” that could come as a result of civilians fleeing the fighting in Yemen, stating that they must prepare for a worst case scenario.