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HRW: Saudi coalition used banned cluster bombs

December 24, 2016

Human Rights Watch has accused the Saudi-led coalition of deploying cluster bombs containing outlawed munitions in Houthi rebel-held province of Saada. The attack in questions targetted two schools, HRW has said.

Saudi Arabien Yemen durch Bomben beschädigtes Schulgebäude
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Waguih

Rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Saudi-led coalition on Friday of using Brazilian-made cluster bombs containing outlawed munitions in its campaign against Houthi rebel forces.

The attack in question reportedly occurred on December 6 in the rebel-held province of Saada. The bombs struck near two schools, killing two civilians and wounding six including a child.

"Brazil should be on notice that its rockets are being used in unlawful attacks in the Yemeni war," HRW arms director Steve Goose said. "Cluster munitions are prohibited weapons that should never be used under any circumstances due to the harm inflicted on civilians."

The incident occurred a day after Saudi Arabia, the US and Brazil abstained from a UN General Assembly vote to ban the use of cluster bomb. With more than 100 countries having already pledged not to deploy such weapons, the vote in favor of an international ban was overwhelmingly endorsed.

"Brazil should make an immediate commitment to ending production and export of cluster munitions," Goose said.

Cluster bombs: Also a British problem

Cluster bombs contain dozens of smaller bomblets that can be dispersed over wide areas and continue to kill and wound people long after they have been dropped.

Earlier this week, the Saudi-coalition said that it would stop using British-made cluster bombs after Amnesty International and other rights groups reported concerns about the spike in civilian casualties.

HRW said it has documented the use of seven different types of cluster munitions since the outbreak of the Yemen war in March 2015. The bombs were manufactured in the US, UK and Brazil.

Yemen: Houthi rebel leader accuses Britain of war crimes

A humanitarian disaster

Saudi Arabia and its allied coalition made up namely of Gulf States have supported of Yemen's government with military intervention since Houthi rebels overran much the country's northern and central regions in March 2015.

The Saudi-led alliance, which enjoys additional logistical and weapons support from the likes of the US and France, has come under repeated criticism for its excessive use of force and neglect for the well-being of civilians. The UN estimates that some 7,000 people have been killed and nearly 37,000 wounded since war broke out.

Last week, UNICEF reported that almost half a million Yemeni children were suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) - which means they were extremely underweight for their height, also known as "stunting." 

A further 1.7 million more children were suffering from Moderate Acute Malnutrition, according to UNICEF.

dm/kl (AP, AFP)