Saudi Arabia Bombs Hospitals and Fishermen

(Reuters) — A Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen on behalf of the elected government said on Tuesday that its planes had not bombed a hospital in north Yemen run by the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Asked if coalition jets had hit the hospital, located in the Heedan district of Saada governorate, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said in an electronic message: “Not at all.” Asseri said coalition jets had been in action in Saada governorate, however. Asked if he knew what had caused the blast, Asseri said: “We cannot tell without investigation.”http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/27/us-yemen-security-saudi-idUSKCN0SL2M320151027

(ViceNews) Exclusive: Saudi Arabia Admits Bombing MSF Hospital in Yemen — But Faults MSF | Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN has admitted a “mistake” was made when Riyadh-led coalition jets bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Yemen, but says the medical charity provided incorrect geographic coordinates for the facility, leading to the incident.https://news.vice.com/article/exclusive-saudi-arabia-admits-bombing-msf-hospital-in-yemen-but-faults-msf

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At least 40 people were killed, including several fishermen, when Saudi-led coalition strikes hit two Yemeni islands on the Red Sea overnight, several locals said on Saturday.

http://news.yahoo.com/several-yemeni-fishermen-killed-saudi-led-strikes-witnesses-093905747.html

 http://www.sagarsandesh.in/news/indian-fishermen-killed-in-fire-in-a-yemenese-port/

Yemen: Denial of hospital bombing by Saudi-led coalition contradicts all facts

Paris/New York – Despite denials by the Saudi-led coalition, it is beyond doubt that it struck and destroyed a hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Haydan,Yemen, on 26 October, MSF said today, adding that the hospital had previously been damaged by coalition attacks.

The Haydan area has been under intense airstrikes for months. During this time, MSF alerted the Saudi-led coalition on multiple occasions that the airstrikes in Haydan were destroying civilian facilities and damaging the hospital, as directly witnessed by MSF teams. On the night of 26 October, MSF alerted Saudi officials in Riyadh that the hospital was under attack.

“Saudi authorities are denying the evident truth of having destroyed a hospital,” said Laurent Sury, head of MSF emergency operations. “This is an alarming sign for the Yemeni people and for those trying to assist them. How are we to draw lessons from what happened when all we face are denials? How can we continue to work without any form of commitment that civilian structures will be spared?”

On 30 June, 6 July and 7 July, air strikes hit roughly 250 metres from the hospital, targeting houses, a school and a market.

On 23 July , seven bombs fell in Haydan, hitting a market, a gas station, two houses and a school situated 75 metres from the hospital and shattering hospital windows and walls. In all cases, MSF alerted coalition forces. No responses were ever provided.

MSF again urges the Saudi-led coalition to provide clear explanations for the 26 October attack, and insists that the coalition and its supporters must commit to respect health structures and allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance to populations cut off from all aid.

http://www.msf.org/article/yemen-denial-hospital-bombing-saudi-led-coalition-contradicts-all-facts

Yemen: Brazilian cluster munitions suspected in Saudi Arabia-led coalition attack

For Immediate Release

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PRESS RELEASE

30 October 2015

Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces appear to have used a Brazilian variant of internationally banned cluster munitions on a residential neighbourhood in Ahma  in Sa’da, northern Yemen, this week, wounding at least four people and leaving dangerous unexploded submunitions strewn around the surrounding farmland, Amnesty International said today.

The organization interviewed a number of local residents including two victims, the medical personnel treating them, an eyewitness and a local activist who visited the site shortly after the attack. Unexploded “duds” pictured at the attack site bear similarities to Brazilian-manufactured cluster bombs Saudi Arabia is known to have used in the past.

“Because cluster munitions are inherently indiscriminate weapons, their use is prohibited by customary international humanitarian law. In fact, nearly 100 states have totally banned their production, stockpiling, transfer and use, in recognition of the unique and lasting harm they cause,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“In addition to killing and injuring civilians when they are initially used, many submunitions fail to explode upon impact and continue to pose a risk to the lives of anyone who comes into contact with them for years. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition must immediately cease their use and all sides should publicly commit never to deploy cluster munitions and agree to join the global Convention on Cluster Munitions.”

Eyewitness accounts
The cluster munition attack was carried out at around noon on 27 October 2015 in a residential area of Ahma, approximately 10km north-west of al-Talh in Sahar directorate, near Sa’da city. Ahma is approximately 40km south of the border with Saudi Arabia.

A local activist who visited the site several hours after the attack found three unexploded submunitions around 20m apart, one in the field of a local farm, another near a greenhouse and the third next to a mosque. The nearest military objective known to Amnesty International is a market in al-Talh, approximately 10km to the south-east, which is known to sell weapons and has been targeted by airstrikes on at least five different occasions since the start of the Saudi Arabia-led bombardment campaign in March.

Eyewitnesses described how, despite the complete absence of military aircraft, a series of rockets screamed across the sky and exploded in mid-air, followed by dozens of explosions on the ground. These accounts and the remnants found on the ground are consistent with the use of cluster munitions fired via surface-to-surface rockets, using a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS).

Salah al-Zar’a, 35, a local farmer, was on the main road 50m away when the strike occurred: “I was on my motorcycle going in the direction of Dhahyan with another friend, when I saw… four rockets coming down… Each went in a different direction with two minutes between each rocket. There were four explosions in the sky first and then 50 explosions when they hit the ground. They landed on a group of 30 houses and shops.”

Saleh al-Mu’awadh, 48, a farmer who has 10 children, spoke to Amnesty International over the phone from his hospital bed in al-Jamhouri hospital in Sa’da city: “I was passing by on my motorbike on the main road next to the attack site, when all I felt was pieces of shrapnel. The impact of the strike affected farms a couple of kilometres away from the site.”

Shrapnel wounds
According to medical personnel treating the patients, one of the injured, 25-year-old Abdelaziz Abd Rabbu is in a critical condition with shrapnel injuries to the abdomen and chest.

Abdelbari Hussein, 22, another civilian injured in the attack, told Amnesty International: “I was sitting in my shop when the attack happened. I did not hear a plane, all I heard was the explosions.” He sustained shrapnel injuries to the abdomen.

Even though the attack may have targeted Huthi and other armed groups among the civilian population, the use of inherently indiscriminate weapons like cluster munitions is absolutely prohibited by international humanitarian law. Any use of cluster weapons violates this rule.

Banned cluster bombs
Cluster bombs and munitions contain between dozens and hundreds of submunitions, which are released in mid-air, and scatter indiscriminately over a large area measuring hundreds of square metres. They can be dropped or fired from a plane or, as in this instance, launched from surface-to-surface rockets.

Cluster submunitions also have a high “dud” rate – meaning a high percentage of them fail to explode on impact, becoming de-facto land mines that pose a threat to civilians for years after deployment. The use, production, sale and transfer of cluster munitions is prohibited under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which has almost 100 states parties.

Even though Brazil, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the other members of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition participating in the conflict in Yemen are not parties to the Convention, under the rules of customary international humanitarian law they must not use inherently indiscriminate weapons, which invariably pose a threat to civilians.

Brazilian ASTROS II
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and theCluster Munition Coalition have documented the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s use of four types of cluster munition in the Yemen conflict to date, including three US-manufactured variants.

But this marks the first suspected use of Brazilian-made cluster munitions in the conflict.

Several Brazilian companies produce cluster munitions. While Amnesty International was unable to independently verify with absolute certainty the make and model of the submunitions dropped on Ahma, they bear similarities to one manufactured by a Brazilian company called Avibrás Indústria Aeroespacial SA.

The ASTROS II is a truck-loaded, multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) manufactured by Avibrás. ASTROS II can fire multiple rockets in rapid succession and three of its rockets can be fitted with up to 65 submunitions, with a range of up to 80km, depending on the rocket type. The company’s website describes it as “capable of launching long-range rockets, designed as a strategic weapon system with great deterrent power.”

According to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, Avibrás has sold this type of cluster munition to Saudi Arabia in the past, and Human Rights Watch documented their use by Saudi Arabian forces in Khafji, Iraq, in 1991, “leaving behind significant numbers of unexploded submunitions.”

“Brazil must immediately come clean about the extent of its international transfers of banned cluster munitions, which go back decades. Brazil and other states that continue to allow the production and transfer of these weapons cannot claim ignorance of the toll they are taking on civilians in Yemen and elsewhere. Brazil must stop production immediately, destroy its stockpiles and accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions without delay,” said Átila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil.

Amnesty International spoke to a senior official at Avibrás today who had seen the images from Yemen. He said the shape “resembles” Avibrás designs and did not rule out that it was theirs, but he said the probability of this was low because of the calibre size. However, he admitted that the company manufactured similar calibres in the early 1990s, and said he would investigate further.

Public Document
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For more information please contact:
Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on
+44 20 7413 5566 or +44 (0) 777 847 2126
email: press@amnesty.org
twitter: @amnestypress

Mariana Oliveira at Amnesty International Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, on:

Tel: + 55 21 3174 8627

Cel: + 55 21 9 9730 3617

email: mariana.oliveira@anistia.org.br

Amnesty International have produced these two reports on the current assault on Yemen and the devastation its causing:   

2015.09.25 The ugly truths of Yemen’s war must not stay buried in the rubble 2015.09.25 Yemen UN inquiry needed as civilian lives devastated six months after Saudi Arabia-led coalition began airstrikes

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Human Rights Watch:

Human Rights Watch was one of ten NGOS which noted as part of a joint statement (https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/10/02/un-human-rights-council-joint-ngo-statement ) on the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva:
We are also dismayed at the failure to hold all parties to the conflict in Yemen to account for widespread serious violations. We echo the call of some States for further urgent action on accountability in Yemen should the situation fail to improve. The world will be watching.
This resolution also illustrates a growing tendency of giving a clearly outsized role to those States responsible for human rights violations in holding the pen on resolutions. They often do so not with the intention of actually addressing the situation, but with the aim of shielding their own acts and omissions from international scrutiny. Sadly, they are often supported by their allies for the sake of political expediency. This practice undermines the mandate of the Human Rights Council.”  
On the role of the ex-colonial power Britain, HRW notes (https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/10/01/dispatches-britain-backtracks-justice-yemen )
UK Director
The British government’s concern for the safety and well-being of the Yemeni people – already extremely feeble – reached a new low this week. In Geneva, Britain failed to actively promote a Dutch resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council that called for a credible international investigation into violations of international humanitarian law, the laws of war, by all sides to the Yemen conflict.
Yet three weeks ago, the British ambassador to the UN in Geneva was saying on Twitter: “The Dutch are going to run a Resolution on #Yemen in the UN Human Rights Council. We will support.” A week later, he reacted to UNICEF’s statement on the death of 466 children in Yemen since March by stating: “466 reasons why the Dutch resolution on #Yemen at #HRC30 is so important.” Britain’s positioning this week makes it pretty clear that ministers in London instructed diplomats in Geneva to back off. 
In the absence of active support from Britain, but also from the United States and France, the Dutch draft was withdrawn, replaced by a deeply flawed Saudi/Arab Group text with no mention of an international investigation. The level of reporting will be similar to a year ago – ignoring the dramatic deterioration in the country. The conclusion is inescapable: high-level advocacy by the Saudis and others scuppered this very modest effort to start a process for justice and accountability for serious abuses in Yemen.
The war in Yemen has killed at least 2,350 civilians since March, most from airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition of primarily Gulf states. Just this week, as many as 130 civilians, including women and children, were killed in an airstrike that hit a wedding party. The humanitarian consequences of this conflict are appalling, exacerbated by the coalition’s naval blockade of Yemen’s main ports – 80 percent of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance and 1.5 million are internally displaced.
Britain has supported the Saudi-led coalition. This includes approving 37 export licenses for military goods for Saudi Arabia since March, alongside technical support and British liaison personnel in Saudi and coalition military headquarters.
Human Rights Watch and others have documented numerous coalition airstrikes that have caused indiscriminate or disproportionate civilian casualties in violation of the laws of war, some of which may amount to war crimes. But there is no evidence to suggest that Britain has meaningfully condemned or acted to prevent laws-of-war violations by coalition forces. In fact, British ministers and officials continue to assert – shamelessly and disingenuously – that they have no evidence of international humanitarian law violations.
Indeed, they go one step further. The Middle East minister, Tobias Ellwood, has said that “We have received assurances from the Saudis that they are complying with International Humanitarian Law and we continue to engage with them on those assurances.” In other words, the British government will uncritically accept claims that rights violations are not occurring from a government that routinely violates human rights. 
A better response would surely be to champion a credible investigation of abuses by all sides to the conflict and hold perpetrators to account. The response of the British and other governments this week has denied justice and real accountability to the Yemeni victims of this war. 
 

New York Times Investigation

GENEVA — As Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies pressed their military offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen, Saudi diplomats were waging their own battle to fend off calls in the United Nations Human Rights Council for an international inquiry into abuses by all parties to the Yemeni conflict.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/25/world/middleeast/saudis-seek-to-fend-off-un-inquiry-on-yemen.html

GENEVA — In a U-turn at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Western governments dropped plans Wednesday for an international inquiry into human rights violations by all parties in the war inYemen that has killed thousands of civilians in the last six months

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/01/world/middleeast/western-nations-drop-push-for-un-inquiry-into-yemen-conflict.html?_r=0

State of Crisis: Explosive Weapons in Yemen

Yemen is the worst country for civilian deaths and injuries from explosive weapon use in the first seven months of 2015, says a new publication produced by UK-based charity AOAV and UN OCHA.

In March 2015, a complex and long-running political crisis in Yemen rapidly escalated into all-out conflict. President Hadi fled the country after Houthi rebels took control of the capital city Sana’a, and on 26 March a coalition led by Saudi Arabia began an operation of air strikes in Yemen at the request of the Yemeni Government. The fighting in the country since March has been characterised by the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas by all parties to the conflict, with civilians suffering from near-daily bombing and shelling in their towns and villages.

As of 10 September 2015, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had registered 2,204 civilian deaths and 4,711 civilian injuries from all forms of armed violence in Yemen. Millions more have suffered from additional devastating consequences in the country, including poverty, malnutrition, insecurity, and limited access to health and sanitation.

Much of this chaos is due to the use of explosive weapons with widearea impacts in populated areas across the country.

In State of Crisis, AOAV and OCHA investigate the humanitarian impacts of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Yemen during the conflict up to 31 July 2015.

Key findings

Between 1 January and 31 July 2015 AOAV recorded:

  • 124 incidents of explosive violence in Yemen resulting in 5,239 deaths and injuries;
  • 86% of those killed and injured were civilians (4,493);
  • More civilian deaths and injuries from explosive weapons were recorded in Yemen during the first seven months of 2015 than in any other country in the world;
  • When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, civilians made up 95% of reported deaths and injuries;
  • 13 separate incidents in Yemen each killed and injured more than 100 civilians. Eight of these incidents were air strikes;
  • Air strikes have killed and injured the most civilians, with 2,682 civilian deaths and injuries (60%).

The impact of explosive weapons in Yemen goes far beyond the immediate deaths and injuries recorded by AOAV. The report uses testimonies and experiences of victims and witnesses to illustrate some of the long-term impacts that can cause extensive suffering far into the future, even after the fighting ends.

Robert Perkins, author of the report, says: “Our findings show Yemen is the worst country in the world this year for civilians affected by explosive violence, more devastating even than the crisis in Syria and Iraq. An already vulnerable population is now faced with a country reduced o rubble by falling bombs and rockets. Their homes destroyed, their families torn apart, it will take a many years to recover from the last few terrible months in Yemen. 

The crisis in Yemen shows exactly why explosive weapons with wide-area effects have no place being used in populated areas. All parties to this conflict must immediately stop the bombing of civilians and civilian areas.” 

To read the full report please click here.