Saudi-led coalition may have committed war crimes in Yemen

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The conflict in Yemen may be a complex worldwide issue, but United Nations investigators have just found a depressing common denominator: A new fact-finding reports suggests that all parties to the conflict are guilty of war crimes, reports the BBC.

A report for the Human Rights Council also pointed to crimes by Houthi rebels but said the single most lethal force against Yemeni civilians was the coalition's bombing and shelling of schools, hospital and markets.

The UN refugee agency meanwhile said more than 450 civilians were killed in Yemen in the first nine days of August, making it one of the deadliest periods since the start of the war.

Even getting the experts panel, headed by Tunisian expert Kamel Jendoubi, up and running was an accomplishment for the UN-backed Human Rights Council, which passed a resolution creating the team last September.

The assessment team's work lacked transparency, its investigations lacked legal analysis and its findings regularly ignored civilian casualties and were often substantially altered by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the experts said.

The team of experts was set up by the UN Human Rights Council previous year to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Yemen.

The experts also said almost a dozen deadly airstrikes they investigated over the previous year "raise serious questions about the targeting process applied by the coalition".

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The report covers the period from September 2014 through June 2018, and does not address the latest series of deadly strikes that have killed dozens of children in rebel-held areas and sparked global outrage.

The coalition has not confirmed or denied it carried out two air raids on Thursday that the United Nations said killed at least 26 children and four women south of the flashpoint rebel-held city of Hodeida. A coalition airstrike struck a bus in northern Yemen earlier this month, killing more than 50 people, including 40 children, and wounding dozens.

"Children are the most vulnerable".

The experts said they had received "substantial information" indicating that Yemen's government, the coalition-backed forces and the rebels had all conscripted children, mainly aged 11 and up, but some as young as eight.

Since June, the Saudi-led coalition has waged an offensive to clear the port city of Houthis and restore government control.

Jendoubi urged an end to "disproportionate restrictions on the safe and expeditious entry into Yemen of humanitarian supplies and other goods indispensable to the civilian population".

They urged the global community to "refrain from providing arms that could be used in the conflict" - an apparent reference to countries such as the U.S. and Britain that have helped to arm the Saudi-led coalition, as well as Iran, which has been accused by the coalition of arming the Houthi rebels. They declined to provide details, but the report said offences had been committed by individuals at all levels in the Saudi-led coalition's member states and their governments, including civilian officials.