Yemen: Over 57 Civilians Killed in Houthi Bombardment

Yemen: Over 57 Civilians Killed in Houthi Bombardment 22 July 2015

The International Gulf Organization for Human Rights (iaIGO) denounces the death of 57 civilians including 12 children and six women in a rebel bombardment in the Yemen city of Aden.

A recent bombardment in Yemen’s second largest city Aden resulted in great casualties. The bombardment which occurred in theDar Saad neighborhood of the city was carried out by Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The deadly incident claimed the lives of about 57 innocent civilians and injured more than 215 others. Approximately 12 children and six women were among those killed in the attack.

Houthi rebels have intensified their attacks after being in an effort to block the advancement of the pro-government troops backed by the Arab-Saudi led coalition after they were forced out of the city’s airport. The latest incident happened just two days after the country’s Prime Minister Khaled Bahah declared Aden was liberated from the rebels.

iaIGO strongly condemns this attack by the rebels and stresses that the indiscriminate killings of civilians during conflicts is a direct violation of several international humanitarian laws and rules of armed conflicts. The Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN’s Resolution on Human Rights of 1968 visibly states that all parties to these conventions are “prohibited to launch attacks against the civilian populations” and that clearly “distinction must be made at all times between persons taking part in the hostilities and members of the civilian population to the effect that the latter be spared as much as possible.”

According to these conventions, civilian populations are supposed to be protected from harm by all parties involved in the conflict. Failure to abide by this rules and targeting civilians during war time may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICC).

Yemen was plunged into severe political crisis since last year when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia to seek refuge from the insurgency of Houthi rebels. UN figures places the death toll of the fighting between the rebels and pro-government forces at 3,200 many of whom are innocent civilians who do not take part in the hostilities. The chaos and continuous fighting has further pushed the Middle Eastern country into dire humanitarian crisis as the UN places its humanitarian emergency at level-3, the highest on its scale. Currently, there are more than 21.1 million people in urgent need of humanitarian aid and food most of whom are women and children.

iaIGO calls on the Yemeni government to immediately investigate the events that lead to the deadly incident and to bring to justice the perpetrators of this heinous crime. Both rebels and Saudi led coalition should respect their obligation under international human rights laws to protect civilians during conflict. iaIGO equally urges all parties involved in the conflict to work collaboratively with the UN Security Council to develop and implement sustainable solutions to end the crisis and bring peace in the country.