Report reveals year of Houthi atrocities in Yemen

The Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations (YCMHRV) documented crimes by the rebels and troops allied to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

ABU DHABI // Houthi rebels and troops loyal to Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have committed a series of crimes, according to a report released on Saturday.

The Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations (YCMHRV) issued the report documenting the atrocities in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, along with the governorates of Taez, Lahej, Hodiedah, Addali’e, Abyan, Dhamar, and Shabwa.

The report compiles a year’s worth of field research by YCMHR monitors from September 21, 2014 to August 15, 2015.

The report found that the toppling of the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi has presented a serious threat to the human right’s situation in Yemen.

In September, Houthi rebels and their allies among Saleh’s loyalists took over Sanaa. In February, they forced Mr Hadi and his government to flee the capital. The following month, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition began an air campaign meant to defeat the rebels and restore Mr Hadi to power.

In July, the southern port city of Aden was liberated by pro-government forces backed by coalition troops, including Emirati soldiers. The fighting between rebels and pro-government forces backed by coalition troops is now focused in Marib governorate, which lies West of Sanaa.

On Saturday, pro-government forces killed at least 20 Houthi rebels, the military said, as they pressed their offensive.

Twelve other rebels were captured in the operation launched on the northwestern edge of Marib province

“Loyalist forces, supported by coalition aircraft, have made a slight advance” in the north-west of Marib, Abda Al Subei, of the provincial security forces said.

Nearly 4,900 people have been killed in the fighting since March, according to the United Nations.

Human rights violations have now reached an unprecedented level in Yemen’s history, the YCMHR report said. The violations have affected men, women, children, property and Yemen’s natural environment.

It found that 3,074 people were killed, about 20 per cent of whom were women and children. 7,347 civilians wounded due to random shelling, at least 25 per cent of whom were women and children. A total of 5,894 people were arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared, 4,640 of them were released and 1,254 people remain in captivity.

Detainees are frequently mistreated and deprived of basic needs, such as food, water and proper hygiene and sanitation conditions. Some are also used as human shields in areas where coalition air strikes are taking place, in clear violation of national and international law.

The report calls on Yemen’s government, the rebels, and the international community to implement UN resolution 2216, which calls for the Houthis to lay down their arms and withdraw from areas they have captured.

Meanwhile, Houthi rebels killed two soldiers in a cross-border attack, the country’s interior ministry said on Saturday.

A senior Saudi Arabian officer and another border guard were killed by heavy gunfire from the Yemen side of the border on Friday after their patrol vehicle was hit by a mine explosion, the ministry said.

Colonel Hassan Ghasoum Ageeli and a deputy sergeant died in the Jazan district, and four other guards were lightly wounded, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Col Ageeli is one of the most senior Saudi officers killed since March when the kingdom formed an Arab coalition to fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The landmine blast damaged vehicles patrolling the border district, the ministry said. After backup arrived, “they were subject to heavy shooting from several locations inside the Yemeni border,” sparking a firefight, it said.

In June, a Saudi lieutenant colonel died in a landmine blast in Jazan, while a general in August became the highest-ranked Saudi fatality when he was killed in cross-border fire.

Around 70 people have been killed in Saudi Arabia from border shelling and skirmishes since the coalition campaign began. Soldiers have accounted for most of the border casualties.

* Wam, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, Reuters