Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

Yemeni rights group: US attacks killed and harmed civilians in Yemen

Published on: 24 March, 2021


A Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen

A Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen

In a report released on Tuesday, the Yemen-based human rights organisation Mwatana claims that at least 38 Yemeni civilians, including 13 children, were killed during US operations in Yemen.

The report, Death falling from the sky: Civilian harm from the United States use of lethal harm in Yemen, contains detailed information regarding 12 operations, including 10 airstrikes, carried out by the US in Yemen between January 2017 and January 2019.

The US operations also caused other forms of civilian harm. The incidents led to adverse economic effects, killing primary breadwinners whose families relied on their incomes, and damaging and destroying important civilian property, including vehicles, homes, and livestock. The operations also caused significant social and psychological harm.

The report calls upon the Biden administration to follow ‘a rights-respecting course.’

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been fighting since 2015 in Yemen to oust the Houthis, a Yemeni faction that controls the capital.

Mwatana documents civilian harm and international law violations by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

Speaking to Al Jazeera Kristine Beckerle. legal director of Mwatana,  says that the release of the report was prompted by the fact that ‘its approaching 20 years since the US began using lethal force in Yemen’.

Beckerle states that in one of the cases in the report, the January 2017 ground raid in Al Bayda, a US soldier was killed.

But, says Beckerle ‘many of the operations were air strikes, carried out by drones. In these cases, the risks to US soldiers are nil, while the impact on Yemenis is significant, and often ignored.’

International law

Beckerle says: ‘The US has an international law obligation to credibly investigate violations, hold those responsible to account, and provide reparations. In its use of lethal force in Yemen, for nearly 20 years, the US has very clearly failed to do so. ‘

She adds: ‘Beyond that, the report raises serious concerns about the extent to which the US is complying with important provisions of international human rights law, like the right to life, and international humanitarian law, particularly regarding precautionary measures, distinction, military necessity, and proportionality. ‘

International experts have acknowledged that atrocities, including torture and rape have been committed on both sides of the conflict.

Both Saudi and Houthi authorities have committed war crimes in Yemen. The Houthi authorities have been accused of indiscriminately shelling civilian areas, targeting civilians with snipers, waging siege warfare and recruiting children to fight.