Three displaced families killed in airstrike in south-west Yemen – UN rights wing

21 July 2017

Three displaced families have been killed when their makeshift shelter was hit in an airstrike in Yemen’s Taiz governorate earlier this week, the United Nations human rights wing said.

Citing witness reports, Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said today that the straw house the families were sheltering in was destroyed in the strike, killing everyone who were inside at the time.

“At least 18 civilians in all, including ten children and two women, are believed to have died in the incident,” he said.

The Arab Coalition Forces airstrike had taken place in the Al Asheerah village, which is near the town of Mawza, and is currently controlled by the Houthis, at around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 18 July.

According to Mr. Colville, the families had been recorded by OHCHR as displaced, along with three others, from their homes in a different village nearby three months ago as a result of other airstrikes, and had set up four rough shelters in an open area in Al Asheerah.

The village is located about eight kilometres from the Khalid Bin Al Walid Military Camp, where clashes between pro-Hadi forces, backed by the Coalition Forces, and the Houthis are taking place.

Noting that according to available information, there did not appear to have been “any military objectives anywhere” in the immediate vicinity of the destroyed house, the OHCHR spokesperson underscored that attacks targeting civilians or civilian objects or indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law.

“[We] remind all parties to the conflict, including the Coalition, of their duty to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law and to respect their obligations under international human rights law,” said Mr. Colville, calling on the authorities for a comprehensive and impartial investigation into this incident.

Since March 2015, OHCHR has documented 13,609 civilian casualties, including 5,021 killed and 8,588 injured. These figures are based on the casualties individually verified by its office in Yemen and the overall number could be much higher.