Amnesty: Yemen war has increased child marriages

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“Inequalities” between men and women in Yemen have been “exacerbated” as a result of the ongoing crisis in the country and resulted in the “rise” of negative coping mechanisms, including child marriage, Amnesty International’s World Report warned today.

The 409-page report, which mentions Yemen 58 times, says the situation has left women with “less protection” and fewer avenues to redress for “sexual and other violence”, including female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

All parties in the Yemen conflict have “committed war crimes and other serious violations of international law”, Amnesty continued. Adding that the “government and allied forces used internationally banned weapons such as cluster munitions” against their civilian population.

A child soldier in Yemen

Saudi Arabia, which is currently leading a coalition of Arab states in Yemen, has “held up shipments of food, fuel and medicine”, cutting off the country’s northern ports which are currently being controlled by the Houthi armed group, Amnesty explained. The blockade “contributed to pervasive food insecurity and what became the world’s worst cholera epidemic”.

In addition to this, “the coalition’s air strikes hit funeral gatherings, schools, markets, residential areas and civilian boats.”

The Saudi-led coalition used “imprecise munitions in some attacks, including large bombs with a wide impact radius that caused casualties and destruction beyond their immediate location.” In one incident, the coalition fired banned cluster munitions on residential areas and farmlands in Houthi stronghold Saada governorate, northern Yemen.

The report also called out the Houthis who “indiscriminately” shelled civilian areas in Ta’iz and used artillery fire to blindly shoot across the border into Saudi Arabia “killing and injuring civilians”.

The report referenced 5,144 civilians killed, including more than 1,184 children and more than 8,749 wounded since the Saudi-led coalition entered the civil war in March 2015 until August 2017.

Arbitrary arrests, detentions and freedom of expression

The report goes on to highlight an uptick of arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists and human rights defenders in the capital Sana’a by the Houthi armed group. While the Saudi-led coalition “prevented journalists from entering Yemen”, even banning UN flights access. This minimised “coverage” and effectively imposed a “media blackout” amid violations, the report warned

The Yemen government, Houthi group, Saleh’s forces and United Arab Emirates-backed forces all engaged in “illegal detention practices including enforced disappearance and torture and other ill-treatment”.

The government body setup to tackle such issues, the National Commission to Investigate Alleged Violations of Human Rights, has “failed to conduct investigations consistent with international standards into alleged violations committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen”, Amnesty warned. With a cob-web of armed groups and security forces without an effective command and control of the central Yemen government, the “space for impunity further widens”.

US drone strikes and night raids

The report goes on to mention that the United States’ counter-terrorism drone strikes, known for its indiscriminate nature, “increased threefold”. The US also carried out two “ground assault raids”, but Amnesty did not mention how many civilians were killed as a result.

A panel of Yemen experts submitted a 329-page report to the Security Council in January. The report includes similar findings as Amnesty International’s Yemen country profile in this year’s World Report.

A major armed conflict continues in what was the poorest country in the Middle East even before war began in 2015 between the Houthi and government forces, with more than 10,000 civilian casualties. The Sultanate of Oman last week signalled that it is willing to host peace talks in the hope of rescinding the conflict.

Read: UK calls on Iran to stop escalating Yemen war

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