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UN seeks international investigation of civilian deaths in Yemen war

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UN human rights Chief, Zeid Al-Hussein has called for an international investigation into over 3,799 civilian deaths caused by all parties in the Yemen conflict since March, 2015.

Zeid the UN high commissioner for human rights said that Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes have killed 1,259 out of 2,067 civilian victims between July 2015 and June 2016.

Zeid’s call comes a week after international medical charity Doctors without Borders (MSF) pulled out of Northern Yemen following an airstrike at one of its facilities that killed 19 people.

MSF cited “indiscriminate bombings” and “unreliable assurances” by the coalition, which supports the internationally recognised government against the mainly Shiite Houthi rebels.

The group called for an independent investigation of the hospital strike.

Zeid said in a new report that 7.6 million people in the impoverished Arab country are malnourished, half of them “on the brink of starvation.”

He collected evidence of possible war crimes and rights violations, including deadly attacks on homes, markets, weddings, hospitals and schools.

“The perpetuation of the conflict and its consequences on the population in Yemen are devastating.

“The international community has a legal and moral duty to take urgent steps to alleviate the appalling levels of human despair and ensure that alleged war criminals account for their acts.

“The international community should “establish an international, independent investigative body to carry out comprehensive investigations,” Zeid said.

However, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, offered his backing to Saudi Arabia, the leading member of an alliance.

Kerry also revealed details of a new peace plan which would involve the formation of a national unity government.

Speaking after a meeting with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir, Kerry said that Saudi Arabia was committed to investigating what he described as “troubling reports” of civilian casualties to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

MSF has charged that Saudi Arabia has not revealed the results of its previous inquiries relating to the group’s facilities.

The U.S. has itself backed the Saudi-led air campaign with over 1,000 refuelling missions.

Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia was protecting Yemen from being taken over by a radical militia allied with Iran, in reference to the Houthis.

Kerry said that in an earlier meeting with Gulf counterparts and UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, they had agreed on a new peace proposal after the failure of talks in Kuwait earlier this month.

“The proposal would include the formation of a national unity government as well as the withdrawal of Houthi forces from major cities and the surrender of their heavy weapons to a third-party, he said.

The Houthis rejected a UN proposal at the Kuwait talks that reportedly focussed on the latter two elements, saying that they wanted a comprehensive settlement to cover political as well as security and military issues.

Kerry said the new proposals were “a very fair approach.

“If the Houthis do not see the wisdom of this approach, then it seems clear to me that the international community will understand exactly what the problem is in achieving a fair political solution in Yemen.”

Yemen’s conflict has intensified since March 2015.

It started when the rebels, who took the capital Sana’a in 2014, advanced on the government-held southern city of Aden, prompting Saudi Arabia and allies to start their air campaign against the group.

Kelechi is a writer at The Herald. His many penchants include Poetry, Coding and Rock music. When he is not writing, Kelechi is probably binging on a TV show.

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