Sunday, October 11, 2015

US blocks attempt by UN to investigate Saudi-led bombings' civilian deaths

The Saudi-led bombing of Yemen that began last March has not only created a great deal of property damage and displaced thousands of people — it has also resulted in many civilian casualties.
Two recent incidents have resulted in a demand from several sources for an independent inquiry. In one incident, Saudi helicopters are reported to have attacked a village in the north of Yemen killing 30 civilians. In another missile attack on a wedding party, the Guardian reports 131 civilians killed.
At the UN, the Netherlands pushed for a UN investigation into the incidents. However, after the Saudis complained, the US and several other western countries instead voted in favour of a Saudi resolution that would empower their own forces to investigate themselves. The White House said it was "deeply concerned," "shocked and saddened" by reports of the civilian casualties and urged the Saudi-led coalition carrying out the bombing to be precise in its targeting. Ned Price, the White House National Security Council spokesperson said: "We take all credible accounts of civilian deaths very seriously and again call on all sides of the conflict in Yemen to do their utmost to avoid harm to civilians and to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.We call for an investigation into these reported civilian casualties and for the findings to be reported publicly."
Unlike the Netherlands' resolution, the Saudi resolution would have the coalition do the investigating:The Saudi text calls for an investigation, but empowers the Saudi-led coalition to conduct that investigation, only calling on the UN to offer support to them with “technical assistance,” and then only to the extent they request it.The Saudis have already made it perfectly clear that they deny they had anything to do with the wedding carnage. They say they can prove they made no attacks at the time. The Saudi response to the helicopter incident is similar: A Saudi official said the coalition had played no role in any attack in the area."This is totally false news. We deny it," the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters, adding that no coalition helicopters operated so far from the border.
As the appended video shows, the Saudi-led coalition evidently has used cluster bombs supplied by the United States in some of its missions. There is an international treating banning the use of the weapons but neither the US nor the Saudis have signed it.

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