UN rights chief expresses concern over civilian casualties in Yemen

UN rights chief expresses concern over civilian casualties in Yemen

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday expressed concern [press release] over the continuing casualties in Yemen.

According to Zeid, “The upsurge in fighting in the south-western Governorate of Taizz is of particular concern. Civilians are under fire on all sides, as Houthi and affiliated forces carry out sniper attacks and indiscriminate shelling, and the Saudi-led Coalition continues to conduct airstrikes [JURIST report]. Civilians in the city of Taizz, the conflict is not just escalating but inescapable.”

Zeid addresses the safety of civilians, stating that “the parties to this conflict are obligated to take constant care to spare the civilian population, respecting the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. [A]ny intentional, direct attack against civilians or civilian objects is considered a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and that they should take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event, minimise, the impact of violence on civilians.”

Previously, Zeid reported that more than 13,000 civilians have been killed or wounded in the last two years and more than 80 percent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance. Currently, the number has risen to more than 15,000 casualties.

Last March Zeid released a statement urged for an immediate ceasefire [JURIST report] in the Yemen war and continued international support in ending the conflict.

Recently, there has been an increase in the violence between Without-affiliated forces and loyalists to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The number of killed and injured has doubled since February.

In November the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK [advocacy website] requested [JURIST report] that the International Criminal Court [official website] investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen committed by the United Arab Emirates recruiting foreign nationals to serve in an army composed or mercenaries.

In August 56 national, regional, and international nongovernmental organizations called [JURIST report] for the UN Human Rights Council [official website] to conduct an “independent, international inquiry” into the human rights violations committed in Yemen.