A new UN report has detailed a host of possible war crimes committed over the past five years by parties to the conflict in Yemen, including the governments of Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, to whom Australia continues to export military assets to.
The possible war crimes include airstrikes, indiscriminate shelling, snipers, landmines, arbitrary killing and detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence and impeding access to humanitarian aid, according to the team that investigated the situation in Yemen for the UN Security Council.
Save the Children Australia CEO said it was unthinkable that Australia would continue selling weapons to parties accused of carrying out such abuses.
“This report should act as a wake-up call for the Australian government, which has not been able to guarantee that military assets made in this country and being sold to Saudi Arabia and the UAE are making their way into Yemen,” he said.
“It is deeply concerning to think that Australian-made weapon or weapon parts could be helping fuel the biggest humanitarian crisis on the planet – a crisis that has seen more than 85,000 children die of starvation and diseases, with hundreds more children killed or injured by foreign-made bombs.”
Save the Children welcomes the findings of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, whose report was launched in Geneva on Tuesday. The report highlights that parties to the raging conflict committed ‘a host of possible war crimes’, many of which have impacted or targeted children’s lives.
Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen, said:
“It’s unacceptable that those responsible for the killing, maiming and other grave violations against thousands of Yemeni children are yet to face any consequences. The report even notes the use of starvation as a weapon of war, resulting in thousands of children facing severe malnutrition. Children are not only dying from bombs and bullets, they are being smothered silently because they are denied food.
“Our teams are seeing the results of this terrible conflict every single day – children are coming in sick, malnourished, sometimes too weak to eat. They’re dying of lack of clean and safe water, and medicines. Our staff is supporting children to live but as long as this conflict rages, we can only help children to stay alive, not support them in building a future.
“We’re calling upon the members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to renew and strengthen the mandate for the Group of Eminent Experts, during their next meeting on Yemen[i]. The mandate should include a strong focus on securing evidence in the country, additional public reporting, and child specific expertise. There should be independent, credible investigations into all alleged violations of international humanitarian law, and perpetrators need to be held to account.”