“Civilians in southern Yemen have found themselves trapped in a deadly crossfire between [Houthi] loyalists and anti-[Houthi] groups on the ground, while facing the persistent threat of coalition airstrikes from the sky,” Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International, said in a release Monday. “All the parties to this conflict have displayed a ruthless and wanton disregard for the safety of civilians.”
The report accuses the Saudi-led forces of targeting densely populated areas, including civilian homes and a school.
In May, Human Rights Watch released a report saying that there was “credible evidence” that Saudi Arabia has used U.S.-supplied cluster munitions on Houthi targets in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate.
“Saudi-led cluster munition airstrikes have been hitting areas near villages, putting local people in danger,” Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch, said in the report. “These weapons should never be used under any circumstances.”
Cluster munitions’ small size and high lethality are a threat to civilians in the areas where they’re dropped. In 2008, more than 116 countries signed a treaty prohibiting their use, however the document remains unsigned by Saudi Arabia, the United States and Yemen.
“Coalition forces have blatantly failed to take necessary precautions to minimize civilian casualties, an obligation under international humanitarian law. Indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amount to war crimes,” said Rovera.
Additionally, the report alleges that both pro-government forces and Houthi rebels have used inaccurate area fire weapons, such as Grad rockets, in densely populated areas.
The conflict in Yemen, now well into its seventh month, has seen a steady increase in hostilities after Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi resigned in January, triggering a fight between Iranian-backed Houthi militias and Hadi loyalists. In March, Saudi Arabia joined the fray when it began bombing Houthi targets near its border.
In response to the uptick in civilian casualties, Amnesty International is calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the possibility of war crimes in the country.
“If the international community fails to investigate and hold violators to account then such attacks and the rampant killing and injuring of civilians is only likely to continue,” said Rovera.