Category Archives: Yemen

US, France, Britain may be complicit in Yemen war crimes: UN

UN YemenInvestigators have found potential crimes on the side of the Houthis and Saudi-led coalition, while also highlighting the role Western countries play as key backers of the Arab states [File: Hani Mohammed/AP]

The United States, United Kingdom and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen by arming and providing intelligence and logistics support to a Saudi-led coalition that starves civilians as a war tactic, the United Nations has said.

A UN panel announced on Tuesday that investigators compiled a secret list of possible international war crimes suspects, drawn from their latest report into violations during the four-year conflict between a coalition of Arab states and the Houthi movement that controls Yemen’s capital.

Investigators found potential crimes on both sides, while also highlighting the role Western countries have played as key backers of the Arab states and Iran has played in support of the Houthis.

The report accused the anti-Houthi coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of killing civilians in air raids and deliberately denying them food in a country facing famine. The Houthis for their part have shelled cities, deployed child soldiers and used “siege-like warfare”, it said.

The Houthis drove Yemen’s internationally-recognised government out of the capital Sanaa in 2014. The Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Muslim states intervened the following year to restore the ousted government in a conflict that has since killed tens of thousands of people.

The prospect of famine has created what the UN describes as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

Secret list of suspected perpetrators

The UN report said its independent panel had sent a secret list to UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, identifying “individuals who may be responsible for international crimes”.

Its appendix lists the names of more than 160 “main actors” among Saudi, Emirati and Yemeni top brass as well as the Houthi movement, although it did not specify whether any of these names also figured in its list of potential suspects.

“Individuals in the Government of Yemen and the coalition, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, may have conducted air strikes in violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, and may have used starvation as a method of warfare, acts that may amount to war crimes,” it said.

“The legality of arms transfers by France, the United Kingdom, the United States and other states remains questionable, and is the subject of various domestic court proceedings,” it added.

Commenting on the report, Noha Aboueldahab, a fellow at the foreign policy programme at the Brookings Institution told Al Jazeera that developing a list of perpetrators was within the UN’s mandate.

“It is part of the UN’s mandate to try to identify violations and humanitarian law crimes and, where possible, to identify those responsible for those violations. In terms of developing this list of potential perpetrators is within the UN’s mandate.

“Although it is difficult to say who is on the list, it would be interesting to see if there are any individuals on this list from the US, France and UK,” she added.

Failed accountability

The report also said that it found that a Joint Incidents Assessment Team set up by Saudi Arabia to review alleged coalition violations had failed to hold anyone accountable for any strike killing civilians, raising “concerns as to the impartiality of its investigations”.

The UN panel said it had received allegations that Emirati and affiliated forces had tortured, raped and killed suspected political opponents detained in secret facilities, while Houthi forces had planted land mines.

Air strikes by the Saudi-led military coalition in southwest Yemen hit a prison complex, killing scores of people, the Houthi movement and a Red Cross official said on Sunday.

Aboueldahab said that while justice could take time, the UN report was essential for building a case against suspected perpetrators.

“The statements coming out of the UN and multiple reports calling for accountability will probably not led to immediate prosecution, the information in these reports is absolutely crucial to build cases in the future.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/france-britain-complicit-yemen-war-crimes-190903103122355.html

UN gets access to vital grain in Yemen port city of Hodeidah

imageYemen’s four-year-long civil war has left nearly 80 percent of the population in need of aid [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

A United Nations team has regained access to grain in Yemen that could feed more than 3.7 million people for a month, in a country “gripped with the world’s largest humanitarian crisis” but the cereal is partially infested and must first be fumigated, UN officials say.

The team reached the grain store on Sunday. It is in the Red Sea Mills silos just outside the port town of Hodeidah near a front line area in Yemen’s four-year-old civil war.

“We lost access to this mill in September of last year,” Stephen Anderson, the World Food Programme (WFP) Yemen country director told Al Jazeera from Djibouti.

For months forces affiliated with the Houthi movement which control the port did not allow the UN to cross front lines to access the mills on the outskirts of the city.

“We managed to first gain access, despite repeated attempts in late February and at that time we could see that the grain was in an advanced stage of infestation,” Anderson said.
Brink of famine

An assessment at that time concluded that about 70 percent of the wheat may be salvageable. The WFP-led team is to begin work to save it.

“They’re going to restart the mill and try to get the fumigation under way so that we can get this food out to people who need it most,” Anderson told Al Jazeera.

The war in Yemen has caused the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 24.1 million people – nearly 80 percent of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance, the UN said.

Tens of thousands have been killed, and the country is on the brink of famine.

It will likely take several weeks to mill what can be salvaged from the 51,000 tonnes of grain into flour and distribute it to the Yemeni communities most in need.

“We must have unimpeded access to this mill,” Anderson said. “We are scaling up to helping 12 million people a month so every bit of grain we can get is vitally needed at this time.”

The Houthis and the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi agreed in December to a UN-sponsored truce and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah.

That deal has largely held but violence has escalated in some other parts of the country.

Talks aimed at securing a mutual military withdrawal from Hodeidah have stalled despite UN efforts.

Under the proposed withdrawal, a government retreat would free up access to the Red Sea Mills and humanitarian corridors would also be reopened. The warring sides would still need to agree on which road could be used to transport supplies from the site to recipients.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are leading the military coalition backing Hadi’s government.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/access-vital-grain-yemen-port-city-hodeidah-190505183423561.html

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive: Yemeni child soldiers recruited by Saudi-UAE coalition

Child soldier photoAhmad al-Naqib, 16, managed to flee a military camp at the Saudi-Yemeni border [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive footage that proves the presence of child soldiers in the recruitment camps of the Saudi-UAE-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

The children, desperately poor, are being recruited to fight along the Saudi border to defend it from the Houthis, a rebel group that overran the capital, Sanaa, and large swaths of Yemen’s northwest in 2014.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) formed a coalition to overthrow the Houthis – plunging Yemen into a ruinous war – supported by forces loyal to the country’s internationally recognised government.

The conflict has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, pushing Yemen to the brink of famine and leaving about 80 percent of its population – 24 million people – in need of humanitarian assistance.

However, many children face an even worse reality: being recruited by either warring side to fight in the conflict. According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the child soldiers in Yemen fight for the Houthis. The others fight for the Saudi-UAE-led coalition.

Although Yemen and Saudi Arabia signed the international protocol banning involvement of children in armed conflict in 2007 and 2011, respectively, at the end of 2018, Saudi Arabia was accused of recruiting Sudanese children from Darfur to fight on its behalf in Yemen.

Today, Yemeni children are being recruited using local trafficking networks to defend the Saudi border.

Bereaved families interviewed by Al Jazeera questioned why the coalition would need to recruit children to fight in its war. Al Jazeera investigated these claims.

Paycheck promises

In the southern city of Taiz, Al Jazeera spoke to 16-year-old Ahmad al-Naqib and his family at the end of 2018, and the family of Mohammad Ali Hameed, 15, in February 2019. Both boys left their home, chasing promises of a regular paycheck and non-combatant roles.

Ahmad was able to flee and tell us his story, but Mohammad never made it home after he was recruited, leaving his father to tell his story.

“He had graduated from high school and started working, but before we knew it they had recruited him. He insisted on going to al-Buqa’,” Mohammad’s father, Ali, told Al Jazeera in an interview in December.

“It has been five months since he left. We have not heard anything since; we still don’t know where he is,” he added.

Both teenagers, who came from a poor background, embarked last year on separate and arduous journeys from their villages near Taiz, in the south of Yemen, towards the Saudi border crossing of al-Wade’a in the north.

According to Ahmad, al-Buqa’ in Yemen – close to the Saudi border – is where Yemeni children are being trained to fight. It is also an area that has seen frequent fighting between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition. In order to avoid exposure to the Houthis, buses carrying people to al-Buqa’ were going through the border town of al-Wade’a into Saudi Arabia.

‘There are many just like them’

The teenagers were first contacted by recruiters in the south’s poverty-stricken villages; they were looking for young boys to take to the Saudi-Yemeni borders.

Ahmad said he and many other boys were recruited ostensibly to work in the kitchens of Yemeni military units stationed inside Saudi Arabia.

“We went because we were told we would be working in a kitchen and making 3,000 Saudi riyals ($800)… so we believed them and got on the bus,” Ahmad told Al Jazeera.

Typically, a recruiter would deliver his human cargo to a trafficker at one of the Yemeni cities along the route leading up to the borders. The trafficker would then deliver the young recruits to another smuggler who would provide them with identification cards – if they did not have one – so they are able to cross into Saudi Arabia, where they would be placed into a military camp.

Al Jazeera called a trafficker, posing as a man interested in travelling to a military camp with three boys between 15 and 16 years old. The trafficker said the boys would be “bought” by someone at al-Wade’a who would provide them with military identification. After expressing concern that the boys would be turned away for being obviously underage, the trafficker said: “Don’t worry, there are many just like them.”

In a follow-up phone call with the trafficker about the fate of the boys, he said: “Don’t worry, this stuff isn’t important to us. What is important is that they are good soldiers. Can they handle guns?”

Ahmad got to al-Wade’a and went further inland, but did not go all the way to al-Buqa’. He heard from people in an intermediary camp that they would only be paid half the $800 salaries they were promised every two or three months and that he might not be a cook after all. “They give you your gun and send you to the front lines [to fight the Houthis],” Ahmad was told.

“They take them into battles to defend Saudi Arabia. As if these children are the ones who will defend the kingdom. Where are their weapons, their aeroplanes?” said Mohammad al-Naqeeb, Ahmad’s father.

Ahmad said he and others managed to flee the camp late last year.

Fifteen-year-old Mohammad was not one of them.

“His mother is devastated. She has given up. I wish he’d just call to let us know that he’s OK; that’s all we want. We just want to know if he’s alive or dead,” Mohammad’s father said.

“These young and irrational boys should have never been allowed to be enticed and recruited to fight in the war. The government should have sent them back home to go to school, but in a time like this, conscience is dead. Instead, they’re welcomed with open arms,” he added.

Al Jazeera obtained access to a secret list containing the names of Yemeni soldiers captured by the Houthis that Yemen’s government submitted during a round of talks between the warring sides in Sweden last year.

Mohammad’s name was not on the list. His fate is still unknown.

Ahmad, on the other hand, managed to come home to his anguished parents after escaping from the camp.

But a terrible fate awaited him. In January, a stray bullet hit the young boy in the head, ending his short life.

Al Jazeera contacted the Saudi Ministry for Foreign Affairs for comment. They have not responded to the request.

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2019/03/exclusive-yemeni-child-soldiers-recruited-saudi-uae-coalition-190329132329547.html