UN human rights chief slams 'shameful' international response to situation in Yemen

At least 5,144 civilians - including 1,184 children - are estimated to have been killed since March 2015

UN human rights chief slams 'shameful' international response to situation in Yemen

People stand on the rubble of houses destroyed in an airstrike in Sanaa, capital of Yemen. Picture by: Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A new UN report has found that human rights violations and abuses are 'continuing unabated' in Yemen.

According to the UN human rights group (OHCHR), at least 5,144 civilians - including 1,184 children - were killed and more than 8,749 injured between March 2015 and the end of August.

An estimated 3,233 of the civilians killed were reportedly killed by Saudi-led coalition forces, with airstrikes by the coalition - who are supported by countries including the US and UK - said to be the leading cause of casualties.

The UN's figures have been updated since the completion of the report to reflect more recent casualties, with officials warning the figures are a 'conservative estimate' as a result of its strict verification rules.

Image: UNOHCHR

The authors of the new report claim: "In many cases, information obtained... suggested that civilians may have been directly targeted, or that operations were conducted heedless of their impact on civilians without regard to the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack."

The coalition has frequently denied intentionally striking civilian targets, BBC reports.

Airstrikes are said to have struck hospitals, schools, residential areas, funeral gatherings and civilian boats.

The report estimates that 18.8 million people are in need of humanitarian aid as a result of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, with more than 7.3 million people 'on the brink of famine'.

On the ground, meanwhile, monitors said they 'frequently observed' children aged as young as 10 'armed and uniformed' in the country.

The UN human rights office says: "The Popular Committees affiliated with the Houthis and the army units loyal to former President Abdullah Saleh (the Houthi/Saleh forces) were responsible for some 67 per cent of the 1,702 cases of recruitment of children for use in hostilities." 

The report warns that a commission set up to investigate human rights abuses in the country is not perceived to be impartial, and states the situation in the country is an “entirely man-made catastrophe”.

Commenting on the new report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein noted that he has repeatedly called for an independent investigation into the allegations emerging from Yemen.

Mr Zeid observed: "An international investigation would go a long way in putting on notice the parties to the conflict that the international community is watching and determined to hold to account perpetrators of violations and abuses.

"The reticence of the international community in demanding justice for the victims of the conflict in Yemen is shameful, and in many ways contributing to the continuing horror."

He added: "I appeal to all the parties to the conflict, those supporting them and those with influence over them to have mercy on the people of Yemen, and to take immediate measures to ensure humanitarian relief for civilians and justice for the victims of violations."