UK and US bombs caused nearly 1,000 civilian casualties in Yemen, damning report finds

London, Washington under pressure to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE after new report finds their weapons were used in 27 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes which killed over 200 people in Yemen

Bel Trew
Middle East Correspondent
Wednesday 6 March 2019

The Independent

A Yemeni child receives treatment at a hospital after being wounded in a reported Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus carrying children, leaving dozens of people dead or wounded ( STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images )

British and American bombs have killed and maimed nearly 1,000 civilians, including over 120 children in Yemen, since the start of the war there, a new report has revealed.

The findings have sparked fresh calls for both countries to halt arms sales and military assistance to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who used the weapons in a ruinous four-year conflict there.

The 128-page investigation, spearheaded by the US-based University Network for Human Rights (UNHR) and Yemeni monitoring group Mwatana, investigated 27 apparently unlawful airstrikes launched in Yemen by the Gulf alliance between April 2015 and April 2018.

They found that in every one of these sorties, US or UK made weapons were probably used, killing at least 203 people and injuring nearly 750. Over 120 children, meanwhile, and at least 56 women were among the dead and wounded.

These 27 strikes were the only incidents which the researchers were able to collate sufficient evidence for – access in Yemen is heavily restricted. But Mwatana found that in 2018 alone there were 128 apparently unlawful airstrikes.

The report has for the first time exposed that UK weapons had likely been deployed in at least five apparently unlawful airstrikes in Yemen, hitting a community college, multiple civilian businesses and a warehouse, resulting in the death of one civilian and the injury to a child.

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It comes just weeks after the House of Lords International Relations Committee said that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, totalling £4.7bn since the Yemen war began, have caused “significant civilian casualties” and so are probably illegal.

“This report shows there is a pattern of apparently unlawful airstrikes in which western weapons have been used by the coalition. It is evidence that the US and the UK have been playing a role in the slaughter and devastation that is happening in Yemen right now,” said Ruhan Nagra, of the University Human Rights Network, which co-authored the new report.


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