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Congress Needs to Press the Pentagon, Saudi Arabia on Abuses in Yemen War

Just Security:

The panel also said the coalition should have warned medical staff at the Doctors Without Borders-supported Haydan hospital in Saada governorate before bombing it six times. But the panel dismissed the seriousness of attacking a hospital by concluding there had been no “human damage.” Besides the two patients who the aid group’s country director told me were injured, the attack destroyed the emergency room of the hospital, which had received about 150 cases a week. It was the only medical facility within an 80-kilometer radius, making the “human damage” of the attack incalculable.

The panel also concluded that a February 27, 2016 attack on a village marketplace didn’t kill any civilians, while we documented10 civilian deaths, including a woman and four children. In an attack on another marketplace on March 15 that United Nations research and ours found that 97 people died, the panel incredibly said it saw no proof of civilian casualties. One man told us he lost 17 relatives and another lost 16.

The coalition’s examination of attacks is a reversal of past practice, but there’s a long way to go before its investigations can be considered credible, transparent, and impartial. Since the Saudis haven’t released details about the panel members or the actual reports on each incident, it’s hard to know why their findings are so different from what we and the UN found on the ground.

There are also many more airstrikes that need to be investigated. It is unclear how the panel chose these 8 strikes over the more than 70 apparently unlawful airstrikes that we and Amnesty International have documented, and the more than 100 that the United Nations has. These documented coalition strikes have killed nearly 1,000 civilians.

For instance, a March 30, 2015 strike on a camp for internally displaced people killed at least 29 civilians and another strike a day later on a dairy factory near the Hodaida port killed at least 31. On May 12, the coalition struck a civilian prison in the western town of Abs, killing 25 people.

That same day, aircraft dropped at least five bombs on a marketplace in the town of Zabid, killing at least 60. A July 4 attack on another marketplace in the village of Muthalith Ahim killed at least 65. On October 7, the coalition bombed a triple wedding in the village of Sanaban, killing 43 civilians, including 13 women and 16 children.

There is an ongoing human rights crisis in Yemen, supported by Western technology systems and implicitly backed by the world’s largest superpower. And, at the same time, Canada is selling armoured vehicles to nations known to engage in similar types of human rights abuses.