Civilian casualties continue to rise in Yemen, warns UN human rights office

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UNITED NATIONS, June 24 (APP): More than two years of
intensified conflict in Yemen has killed nearly 5,000 civilians,
according to new estimates released by U.N. human rights office.
Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said that the office’s count
of civilian deaths since fighting increased in Yemen in March 2015
was “conservative”. It has recorded 4,971 civilians killed and
8,533 injured based on on-site verifications.
“All incidents resulting in civilian casualties, must be
thoroughly investigated to ensure accountability when breaches
of international law have been found to have taken place,”
Shamdasani told a news briefing in Geneva.
Rights office staffers in Yemen counted nearly 50 civilian
deaths over the last month. Thirty were attributed to air strikes
by a military coalition, while 19 other deaths were blamed on
shelling attacks from factions allied with rebels known as Houthis.
According to witnesses interviewed by the High Commissioner’s
Office (OHCHR), the victims were hit by shelling attacks by
a group affiliated with the Houthis rebels.
Seven civilians were killed reportedly as a result of mortar
attacks from areas controlled by fighters affiliated with forces
loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
She went on to say that at least 23 civilians were killed on
17 June by an airstrike, helicopter attack and shelling on a house
and nearby market area located just a few hundred metres from the
border in Shada District in Sa’ada Governorate.
Since March 2015, OHCHR has recorded a total of 13,504
civilian casualties, including 4,971 killed and 8,533 injured.
“We recall that indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks,
or attacks targeting civilian objects such as markets, are
prohibited under international humanitarian law,” Ms. Shamdasani
said, reminding all parties to the conflict of their obligation
to ensure full respect for international human rights and
humanitarian laws.
On cholera, she said the outbreak of disease has affected
eight prisons and detention centres in six governorates. Some
50 prisoners have contracted cholera and there are 72 other
suspected cases. “In the best of circumstances, prisoners are
among the most vulnerable members of society,” she said.