Saudi-Led Coalition in Yemen: Safeguarding Civilians Remains Foremost Priority
February 13, 2017
(WASHINGTON, DC) — In a statement issued today, the Saudi-led Arab Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen restated its commitment to protecting civilians in Yemen and underscored the steps the alliance has taken to avoid causalities in an ongoing war zone. Among those steps, the Coalition has launched an independent assessment team, fostered active partnerships with relief organizations and focused on safeguarding Yemen’s urban centers as part of a concerted effort to protect civilians and uphold international humanitarian law.
The Coalition’s Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) is composed of military members, weapons experts and legal specialists in humanitarian rights. The independent group reviews reports of Coalition activities that are known to have led to civilian casualties, and offers recommendations for ways to avoid future incidents.
Among the instituted mechanisms, the Coalition said that it has adopted—and has been following—the policy to issue repeated warnings to Houthi militias and Ali Abdullah Saleh forces so that they can evacuate cities prior to a Coalition air strike. The Coalition also has heightened its emphasis on safeguarding critical infrastructure and, as a result, civilian lives in Yemen’s urban centers.
The Coalition said that it works alongside United Nations agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross as part of a collaborative approach to minimize the possibility of harm to civilians, medical personnel, journalists and relief organizations.
The Coalition cited an August 2016 United Nations report that accused Houthi militias and coup forces of consistently violating the Geneva Convention by using civilians as human shields. Moreover, the Coalition stated that rebel forces use child soldiers and use revenge killings and illegal detentions to terrorize Yemen’s population.