SANA’A (Dispatches) – Civilian deaths and injuries in the Saudi-led war in Yemen have almost doubled since UN human rights monitors were removed in October, a non-governmental organization has said.
The ejection of monitors had opened the door to “unchecked, horrific violations”, the Norwegian Refugee Council said on Thursday, urging their reinstatement.
It said 823 civilians were killed or injured in the four months before the end of monitoring, and 1,535 in the four months after their departure.
The report added that civilian casualties caused by air raids, a tactic favored by the Saudi-led coalition, had multiplied by 39 in the same period.
“The removal of this crucial human rights investigative body took us back to unchecked, horrific violations,” country director Erin Hutchinson said in a statement.
The coalition launched the war in March 2015 to return power in Yemen to the impoverished country’s former Saudi- and United States-allied officials.
The war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and turned the entire Yemen into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, forcing Yemeni army to retaliate.
The spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces says a drone attack has been launched on Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport in retaliation for the Riyadh regime’s ongoing military aggression and all-out blockade against the war-torn Arab country.
Brigadier General Yahya Saree said in a statement posted on his Twitter page on Thursday afternoon that the Yemeni army and allied fighters from Popular Committees used a domestically-manufactured Qasef-2K (Striker-2K) combat drone in the operation.
Saree added that the unmanned aerial vehicle struck a designated important military site at the airport with great precision, noting that Abha airport is among the sites where Saudi-led airstrikes against Yemen originate from.
“Who is responsible for the deaths of these children and families? We will probably never know because there is no longer any independent, international, and impartial monitoring of civilian deaths in Yemen,” the report bemoaned.
The UN Human Rights Council voted to disband its Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen in October. The move marked the first time that the body had rejected a draft resolution since it was founded in 2006.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), some 16.2 million Yemenis, or about 45 percent of the population, are food insecure.
The UN agency has warned that more than five million people were on the brink of famine while 50,000 others were living in famine-like conditions.
The food crisis has been compounded by a sharp increase in the price of basic commodities, which have seen a 30 to 70 percent spike since the start of the conflict. In December, the body also said it was “forced” to cut aid to Yemen due to a lack of funds.