Saudi bombs unlawfully targeting Yemen schools – Amnesty

Saudi Arabian airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen have deliberately targeted schools, killing students and making education impossible for many children, a new report from Amnesty International suggests.

Published on Friday, the report claims 34 percent of Yemeni children have not been to school since the conflict began in March. Some 1.8 million children in the country do no attend school, and many have been killed in airstrikes supposedly targeting rebels.

During the nine month conflict, 5,000 people have died and 27,500 have been injured. The war has also devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, with hospitals and roads destroyed, making humanitarian aid difficult to deliver.

In the report, titled ‘Our kids are bombed: schools under attack in Yemen’, Amnesty investigated five airstrikes which took place between August and October 2015 in Hodeidah, Hajjah and Sana, and appear to have targeted schools.

Amnesty says the strikes were unlawful because they targeted civilian objects and “disproportionately harmed civilians and civilian objects in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the attack,” as well as failing “to distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives.

Five people were killed and 14 injured in the strikes, as well as disrupting the education of 6,550 Yemeni children.

Amnesty says UK and US companies are complicit in the illegality of the airstrikes as both countries sell weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Under Article 6 of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which came into force in late 2014, a country is prohibited from authorizing an arms transfer if it has knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms would be used in the commission of attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes as defined by international agreements to which it is a Party,” the report warns.

Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International, said airstrikes against schools are depriving Yemeni children of a normal life and the right to education.

Schools are central to civilian life, they are meant to offer a safe space for children. Yemen’s young school pupils are being forced to pay the price for these attacks. On top of enduring a bitter conflict, they face longer term upheaval and disruption to their education – a potentially lifelong burden that they will be forced to shoulder.”

Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) told RT the UK must stop trading arms to Saudi Arabia to prevent further incidents occurred where civilians are killed.

This is another sign that the UK’s arms export system is broken. For decades the UK has focused on pouring arms into the Middle East and one of the results of that is the humanitarian catastrophe being unleashed on Yemen,” he said.

The UK needs to end arms sales to Saudi and revoke all licenses for arms that are being used in Yemen. By continuing to arm and support the Saudi bombardment the UK is complicit in the destruction taking place,” he added.