US Weapons Responsible for Soaring Civilian Deaths in Yemen and Afghanistan
September 26, 2018
International Rescue Mission & AntiWar.com & Reuters
The US-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen has seen the already huge civilian death toll of the war skyrocket 164% just since June. A single nine-day period in August left nearly 500 civilians killed. In Afghanistan, a soaring number of US airstrikes -- nearly 3,000 strikes in the first six months of 2018 -- have left 149 civilians killed and 204 wounded. Women and children made up more than half of the casualties.
Civilian Deaths in Yemen Up by 164% as
United States Recertifies Support for the War
International Rescue Mission
New data provides further shocking evidence
of the impact of Yemen's war on defenseless civilians.
During this week's UN General Assembly in New York,
world leaders must call for an immediate ceasefire.
SANA'A, Yemen (September 25, 2018) -- The International Rescue Committee is appalled by reports published by the monitoring group Armed Location and Event Data (ACLED), which show the number of civilian deaths in Yemen's four year civil war have increased by 164% since June. According to the group, average monthly civilian deaths have skyrocketed to 116 since the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition launched an offensive to take Hodeidah city.
Frank Mc Manus, Yemen Country Director at International Rescue Committee, said:
"August was the most violent month of 2018 in Yemen with nearly 500 people killed in just 9 days. The impact of the war on civilians is difficult to comprehend but easy to quantify. Since 2015 the Coalition has undertaken 18,000 airstrikes -- one every 99 minutes -- one third of which have hit non-military targets.
"The protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure is not a luxury; it is an essential provision of international law. When these laws fail civilians suffer. Calls from members of the UN Security Council for all conflict actors to respect international law and protect civilians ring hollow in the face of evidence from the ground in Yemen. The world needs a wake up call on Yemen and a new strategy to prevent the suffering of civilians.
"As we speak, fighting inside the critical port city of Hodeidah is increasing and the consequences are dire. A siege of the port city will effectively block humanitarian aid from reaching the 22 million people in need and could trigger famine. This week the UN warned that we are losing the fight against famine in Yemen, and with the humanitarian crisis plummeting to new depths, all efforts must be focused on securing a ceasefire.
"The US State Department's recent certification to Congress that the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition in Yemen is taking demonstrable actions to reduce civilian harm and alleviate the humanitarian crisis is inconsistent with what International Rescue Committee staff experience across Yemen daily. Coalition efforts to protect civilians are simply not good enough, and the recent run of civilians deaths, including woman and school children, is tragic evidence of the shortcomings.
"Have global leaders already forgotten last month's airstrike that killed 51 civilians, including 40 children traveling on a bus? Or this month's report from the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, which adds to the increasing evidence of violations and crimes under international law perpetrated by all sides in the war?"
While all sides -- including Houthi authorities and the Saudi-led and Emirati-led Coalition -- are guilty of violations of international humanitarian law, the United States and the United Kingdom are supporting the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition with weapons and military support.
In 2017, alone, the US approved 17.86 billion USD in military sales by corporations to Saudi Arabia, 26.75 times more than US humanitarian aid to Yemen in 2017. In the same year the UK licensed £1.13 billion of arms.
International Rescue Committee staff have evacuated their homes in Hodeidah City and are now working from Bajil, a small town located 50km from the frontlines of the war, where they continue their life-saving work despite being displaced from their homes.
There is no military solution to the end of the war in Yemen. The IRC calls on all parties to immediately stop the fighting and allow room for a UN-led peace process to take place and for unfettered humanitarian access to reach all Yemenis in need. During this week's UN General Assembly in New York, world leaders must address the horrors going unheard in Yemen.
ACTION: To download photos and multimedia from the ground, click here.
For more information on Yemen, please visit: https://www.rescue.org/country/yemen
ACTION: The crisis in Yemen is escalating. Please help us save children from starvation. Donate now.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world's worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the US helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.
UN Alarmed by Spike in Afghan
Civilian Casualties in US Airstrikes
Steep increase in airstrikes leads
to many more civilian deaths
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 25, 2018) -- With the defeat of ISIS in most cities in Iraq and Syria reducing the number of potential targets for US airstrikes in those countries, planes have been relocated in large numbers to Afghanistan. It has been well-documented that this has led to a soaring number of US airstrikes in Afghanistan, with nearly 3,000 strikes in the first six months of this year, double that of the previous year.
With these strikes largely confined to areas where the US has little ground presence of intelligence on the area, the large increase in strikes led to an equally large increase in the number of civilians getting killed in airstrikes, with nine killed in Kapisa last week in the most recent example.
The UN issued a statement on Tuesday voicing concern about the increasing civilian deaths from airstrikes, reiterating that all parties have an obligation to protect civilians from harm. The US and Afghan governments both say they are "aware" of the statement.
In the first six months of 2018, the UN says 149 civilians were killed and 204 wounded. Women and children made up more than half of the casualties. The UN cautioned that the rate of casualties are still increasing into July and August.
UN Concerned over Spike in
Civilian Casualties in Afghan Air Strikes
James Mackenzie and Abdul Qadir Sediqi / Reuters
KABUL (September 25, 2018) -- The United Nations mission in Afghanistan voiced concern on Tuesday over increasing numbers of civilian casualties as a result of airstrikes by US or government forces, following reports that nine were killed in an eastern province last week.
Air strikes have spiked steeply this year, in a strategy aimed at forcing Taliban militants to accept peace talks, with the number of bombs dropped by the US air force almost doubling in the first six months, to nearly 3,000.
The UNAMA mission said it had received "multiple, credible allegations" that a strike hit the house of a teacher in the eastern province of Kapisa on Saturday, killing nine members of the same family, including three women and four children. Six others were wounded, it said.
"UNAMA reminds all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm," it said in a statement.
"The Mission repeats its earlier call for government forces to uphold their commitment to regular review of targeting protocols and ensure mitigation measures and compensation for victims."
Mohammad Radmanish, a defense ministry spokesman confirmed civilian casualties during a joint operation by Afghan and US forces that involved air support, but gave no details. He said an investigation was underway.
The US military in Kabul said it was reviewing information regarding the Kapisa incident and reiterated that it did all it could to avoid civilian casualties.
"We are aware of the UNAMA announcement regarding Kapisa as well as the Afghan government's statements, and that they're conducting their independent process," it said in an emailed statement.
"It isn't uncommon for insurgents to use these accusations to drive a wedge between the military and the population. We will provide updates as they become available."
The reports underlined one of the problems facing Gen. Scott Miller, the new US commander in Afghanistan who took up his post this month and must balance the need to pressure the Taliban with the need to avoid civilian casualties.
United Nations' data shows a jump of 52 percent in the number of civilians killed or wounded in air strikes in the first six months of the year. The UN said 149 civilians were killed and 204 wounded in air attacks in the year's first half, with women and children comprising more than half the 353 casualties.
Since the figures were reported in July, the UN said it had recorded increasing numbers of civilian casualties from air strikes.
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