Minister says Al Houthis committing war crimes, including killing of 1,500 children, 865 women
Abu Dhabi: Yemen’s human rights minister Mohammad Askar on Thursday denounced a report, by UN human rights experts that said some coalition air strikes may amount to war crimes, as inaccurate and biased.
Askar told a news conference in Abu Dhabi the report had several methodological fallacies and misconstrued the facts of the conflict, ignoring Al Houthis’ many war crimes and the underlying reasons for the conflict — the coup carried out by the Iran-backed militia against Yemen’s legitimate government.
“The report arbitrarily picked some air bombardments [by the coalition] and did not cover the entire Yemeni territories where Al Houthis committed war crimes and human rights violations against civilians,” Askar said, as a round of peace negotiations was due to begin in Geneva on Thursday.
A coalition-led offensive to retake Hodeida was suspended in early July to assist UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths’s mediation efforts. The Yemeni minister citied Al Houthi mortar attacks, launched recently on a hospital and fish market in the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. He said Al Houthi mortar attacks killed 14,220 civilians including 1,500 children and 865 women so far in Yemen.
“Al Houthi attacks left 31,127 people injured, including 4,080 children and 4,253 women. They kidnapped 21,706 people, including 3,486 children. More than 2,875 people were still held in Al Houthis’ detention centres,” Askar said.
The Yemeni minister said the militia planted more than two million landmines, which killed 1,593 people, including 244 children. “The landmines also left 1,413 people injured, some with permanent disabilities,” Askar said.
He noted the report also disregarded Al Houthis’ many other war crimes, including using civilians as human shields, a crime condemned by the UN and the UN High Commissioner.
The experts’ report, released recently, said that bombardment by the coalition caused heavy civilian casualties, raising concerns about the coalition’s targeting process while alleging severe restrictions on Red Sea ports and Sana’a airport had deprived Yemenis of vital supplies.
The panel said Al Houthi militiamen may also be guilty of war crimes, accusing them of restricting access to humanitarian aid and conscripting child soldiers.
Al Houthis regularly fire missiles at southern Saudi Arabia and occasionally aim for higher-value targets, such as the capital Riyadh or facilities of state oil company Aramco.
The report was released ahead of UN peace talks between Hadi’s government and the Houthis.
The minister said his government would provide a “comprehensive and detailed response” within a week.
He called for more political pressure on Al Houthis.
On the Geneva peace talks, Askar said we want this conflict to end and a just peace to prevail. “We have taken all means necessary to end this war in a peaceful manner, but Al Houthis have refused to cooperate.”