Riyadh: The top U.N. human rights official said on Friday that the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen may be responsible for “international crimes”. It also stated
that the alliance had caused the vast majority of civilian deaths in Yemen.
The rights groups have also raised concerns about civilian casualties caused by the Huthi rebels.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations human rights chief condemned an air strike in Yemen this week and said the coalition bore the greatest responsibility.
He said in a statement that.”Looking at the figures, it would seem that the coalition is responsible for twice as many civilian casualties as all other forces put together, virtually all as a result of air strikes.”
Zeid said. “We are possibly looking at the commission of international crimes by members of the coalition.”
More than 9,000 civilian casualties, including 6,000 killed since the coalition campaign began on March 26 last year to fight Iranian-allied Houthis and forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh and to restore the president they ousted, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after rebels seized large parts of Yemen including the capital Sanaa.
The UN children’s agency on Thursday put the death toll from those strikes at 119, and Zeid’s office said Friday that 106 of those killed in the crowded market were civilians, including 24 children.
Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Al-Asseri said that despite those “positive signs”, any formal peace talks would have to be carried out by Hadi’s internationally recognised government, not by Saudi Arabia, and under a U.N. umbrella”.
He also urged the U.N. not to collect its information from the provincial health director, employed by the Houthi-controlled administration in Sanaa. He said to take the information which is coming from the (pro-Hadi) Yemeni army because they are on the ground.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday that “we would welcome and do welcome” Assiri’s comment about an end to major operations.
“We have expressed our concerns about the loss of innocent life in Yemen. The violence there that is plaguing that country has caught too many innocent civilians in the crossfire,” Earnest said.