Saudi Arabia: UN human rights report on Yemen flawed

The Yemeni army has so far removed over 300,000 landmines planted by Iran-backed Houthi militias. (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2018
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Saudi Arabia: UN human rights report on Yemen flawed

  • The Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, said that the Kingdom had written to the UN High Commission with its criticisms
  • The ambassador said the report ignored the fact that the Iranian-backed Houthi militias obstructed humanitarian aid into Yemen and detained and looted many vessels carrying aid

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has strongly criticized the report of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights for Yemen, saying it had fallen away from objectivity, rushed to conclusions and made several errors in its approach and contents.
The Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, said that the Kingdom had written back to the UN High Commission with its criticisms.
He said in a speech to the Human Rights Council during a dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report, which included the report of the international and regional expert group, that the report ignored the information provided for the Group of Experts during its meetings with agencies in the coalition for the support of legitimacy in Yemen.
Al-Wasel added that the Kingdom was surprised by the experts group’s claim that it did not receive specific information from the coalition countries about the targeting procedures, although they were informed of the procedures in place during the group’s visit to the coalition’s command in Riyadh.
It was also surprising, Al-Wasel said, that the experts group based its conclusions on guessing and expectations and the examination of a limited number of violations, when its mandate includes all violations since September 2014.
He said that the report clearly ignored the widespread violations that occurred when Houthi militias swept Yemeni cities, took control of the capital and the state’s institutions and chased the president and his government’s members, and this was the basis of the current Yemeni crisis.
The ambassador added that the report also ignored the fact that the Iranian-backed Houthi militias obstructed humanitarian aid into Yemen and detained and looted many vessels carrying aid.
He also said that ballistic missiles, more than 197 of which targeted Saudi Arabian cities, represent a violation of international humanitarian law, which was not mentioned in the report along with the violations of the Houthis. Nor did the report address the main role of Houthi militias in planting naval and land mines in violation of international law.
Al-Wasel said that the coalition affirms the need for the international community to support the legitimate government in Yemen and reactivate the state’s institutions.
He added that the coalition affirms its full commitment to all provisions of international humanitarian law. The coalition, he said, had developed mechanisms and measures to deal quickly and transparently with mistakes during military operations.

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s permanent delegate to the UN, Ambassador Jamal Al-Ghunaim told the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council that the report was “deeply flawed.”

“[The report] seems to hurl false accusations at the Saudi-led Coalition,” Al-Ghunaim said.

He said the UN experts singled out the coalition of Arab states fighting Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi militia as accountable for the human rights violations in the war-torn country.

“The Arab Coalition never ceased to cooperate with the UN specialists in Yemen to ensure that civilian casualties are averted,” he said.

The Kuwaiti diplomat went on to give the Arab coalition credit for their “efforts to restore normalcy and hope to the lives of the Yemeni people.”


Yemen’s Hodeidah calm after cease-fire takes effect

Updated 18 December 2018
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Yemen’s Hodeidah calm after cease-fire takes effect

  • Yemen’s flashpoint city of Hodeida was calm on Tuesday after the UN-brokered cease-fire started at midnight
  • An agreement reached after talks in Sweden last week calls for the withdrawal of both sides’ forces from Hodeidah

Yemen’s flashpoint city of Hodeida was calm on Tuesday after the UN-brokered cease-fire started at midnight, pro-government sources and residents said.
“There has been complete calm since 03:00 am Yemen time (1200 GMT) in the city of Hodeida,” a military source loyal to the government told AFP on Tuesday.
The cease-fire agreement struck at the UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden came into effect at midnight Monday.
Residents said that daily fighting would usually be fierce in the evening and at night, before coming to a standstill at dawn.
The two warring sides have however welcomed the truce in the strategic Red Sea province.

The Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s government against Iran-backed Houthi militias “has no intention of violating the agreement ... unless the Houthis violate and dishonor it,” a coalition official said.
An agreement reached after talks in Sweden last week calls for the withdrawal of both sides’ forces from Hodeidah within 21 days and the deployment of international monitors. The Houthis are due to surrender control of the port by midnight on Dec. 31.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to propose a surveillance team of up to to 40 observers, diplomats said.
Hodeidah residents reported sporadic fighting to the east and south of the city on Monday before the cease-fire took hold, and a government military official said a fire had broken out in a factory in the east of the city after airstrikes on Sunday night.

(With AFP)