Civilians continue to pay highest price in Yemen war

Civilians continue to pay highest price in Yemen war
The conflict has killed more than 6,600 people – almost two-thirds of them civilians – and displaced at least three million.
2 min read
09 October, 2016
An airstrike killed over 140 people at a funeral ceremony in the capital Sanaa [Getty]

Nineteen months into Yemen's war in which civilians have paid the heaviest price, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike has killed over 140 people at a funeral ceremony in the capital Sanaa.

The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 6,600 people – almost two-thirds of them civilians – and displaced at least three million since a Saudi-led Arab coalition backing the internationally recognised Yemeni government launched military operations in March 2015.

UN rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said on Tuesday that from March 2015 through September 30, 4,014 civilians had died and nearly 7,000 had been injured.

Casualties climbed steeply in August and September, following the collapse of a ceasefire, with the coalition held responsible for six times as many civilian deaths and injuries as the rebel forces, Colville said.

The coalition said it is ready to investigate together with the United States the airstrike Saturday on the funeral ceremony in the capital.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government is battling the Houthi rebels and allied forces who have seized control of large parts of Yemen since 2014 and still hold swathes of territory including Sanaa.

The following is a list of alleged human rights violations in the Yemeni conflict and incidents in which civilians have been targeted.

- On August 15, a coalition airstrike killed 19 people at a hospital in northern Yemen that is aided by the French charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF). It was the fourth strike on an MSF-backed site in a year, the group says, and raised concern in Washington, which supports the coalition.

The coalition, which says it does not deliberately target civilians, vowed to conduct an internal investigation, as UN chief Ban Ki-moon stressed that attacks on hospitals, medical personnel or civilians were "a serious violation of international humanitarian law".

- On August 4, the coalition acknowledged "shortcomings" in two out of eight cases it had investigated of air strikes on civilian targets. They took place in 2015 and involved a residential complex in Mokha, where 65 people died according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

- On March 15, airstrikes on a market killed at least 119 people, including 106 civilians, of which 24 were children, in the northern rebel-held province of Hajja.

- On September 28, 2015, a suspected coalition airstrike killed at least 131 civilians at a wedding near the Red Sea city of Mokha. The Saudi-led alliance denied involvement.

Agencies contributed to this report