Yemen civilians 'paying high price' as airstrikes continue

Yemen civilians 'paying high price' as airstrikes continue
A large number of civilians, including children, are being killed daily in Yemen as a rights group reveals the coalition's 'failure to abide by international humanitarian law'.
4 min read
02 July, 2015
Since the start of the Saudi-led airstrikes over 100 children have been killed [Anadolu]

Civilians in Yemen continue to pay a high price of death and destruction, amid the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes all over the country, a rights group said Thursday.

Amnesty International investigated 17 separate airstrikes in five areas of Yemen including Sadaa, Sanaa, Taiz, Hodeidah, Hajjah and Ibb, and found that at least 197 civilians were killed, including 68 children.

"International humanitarian law is clear that belligerents must take all possible steps to prevent or minimise civilian casualties" said Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Response Advisor, Donatella Rovera.

"However, the cases we have analysed point to a pattern of attacks destroying civilian homes and resulting in scores of civilian deaths and injuries. There is no indication that the coalition has done anything to prevent and redress such violations,” Rovera, who is currently in Yemen, added.

Researchers from the London-based human rights group investigated eight airstrikes in different parts of Yemen and found that in the eight attacks, scores of civilians, including a large number of children were mainly killed.

The Etmi family

Hasan Mohamed Qaed al-Etmi, a 35-year-old ice cream seller, lost four of his children following an airstrike in the village of al-Erra in Hamdan, a district of the Sanaa governorate.

“I was away from the house when my son called me and said that an airstrike had hit a place next to our house. He didn’t want to shock me and asked me to come over," Etmi said.

"I headed towards my house and I saw a big crowd gathered. I saw my wife injured and crying and she was looking for our children. After looking among the rubble, we found the bodies of two of our children, four-year-old Qaed and seven-year-old Adeeb."

"We then continued to search and three hours later found the bodies of Amira and Radina. Amira’s head and face had been smashed" Etmi said.

I saw my wife injured and crying and she was looking for our children. After looking among the rubble, we found the bodies of two of our children, 4-year-old Qaed and 7-year-old Adeeb

A triple strike launched by the coalition against Beit Me’yad, a residential suburb of the capital Sanaa, on June 13 killed 10 civilians – including three children and five women.

The Amiri family

In one of these strikes a 900 kg bomb killed an 11-year-old boy, two of his sisters, his brother, and his 10-year-old cousin, and injured five other members of the al-Amiri family.

"We heard the first explosion at midnight, we all went to the living room" said Mohamed al-Amiri, who lost four children and his nephew.

"But we did not move fast enough. We were 13 family members in the house. I heard my daughter Aysha screaming from her room. She was killed."

The target of the bomb was the house of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's nephew, Yahya Mohamed Abdullah Saleh, who has been living abroad for years, Amnesty said.

The Hujairi family

In Taiz governorate's village of al-Akma, where people live in humble dwellings made of corrugated iron and cardboard, an airstrike in April killed killed 10 members of the al-Hujairi family, including seven children, a woman and an elderly man.

Another 14 from the same family, most of them children and women, were also injured.

All the dead and wounded were from the same family. Those people were poor. What did they do to deserve to be killed?

Speaking about the attack, Rabi Mohamed al-Haddadi, a neighbour who helped rescue the victims, told Amnesty “All the dead and wounded were from the same family. We gathered the body parts, the bodies were torn to pieces. Those people were poor. What did they do to deserve to be killed?”

Yemen’s hostilities have only deepened the country’s existent humanitarian crisis, plunging civilians even further into despair.

Since the start of the Saudi Arabia-led military intervention on March 26, more than 1,400 civilian have been killed and 3,400 injured in three months of the armed conflict, according to the UN.

Already the poorest nation in the Gulf region prior to the fighting, the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) recently stressed that more than 15 million Yemenis do not have access to basic healthcare, with 53 health facilities closed and malnutrition increasing.

Eighty percent of the country’s population is currently in need of critical humanitarian aid, with UN officials saying Yemen is now a step away from famine.

Amnesty International has called for the cases to be "independently and impartially investigated" urging those responsible for "violations of the laws of war" to be brought to justice.