Tuesday, 27 October 2015

27th Oct 2015, cluster munitions dropped by Saudi led coalition on Ahma in Yemen

On 27th October 2015, the Saudi led coalition dropped banned cluster munitions over the area of Ahma in the Sahar directorate in Yemen 40kms south of the Saudi Arabia border. At least 4 people were injured and unexploded munitions remain strewn on farmland.
The following is from an Amnesty International report:

Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces appear to have used a Brazilian variant of internationally banned cluster munitions on a residential neighbourhood in Ahma in Sa’da, northern Yemen, this week, wounding at least four people and leaving dangerous unexploded submunitions strewn around the surrounding farmland, Amnesty International said today.

The organization interviewed a number of local residents including two victims, the medical personnel treating them, an eyewitness and a local activist who visited the site shortly after the attack. Unexploded “duds” pictured at the attack site bear similarities to Brazilian-manufactured cluster bombs Saudi Arabia is known to have used in the past.

“Because cluster munitions are inherently indiscriminate weapons, their use is prohibited by customary international humanitarian law. In fact, nearly 100 states have totally banned their production, stockpiling, transfer and use, in recognition of the unique and lasting harm they cause,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“In addition to killing and injuring civilians when they are initially used, many submunitions fail to explode upon impact and continue to pose a risk to the lives of anyone who comes into contact with them for years. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition must immediately cease their use and all sides should publicly commit never to deploy cluster munitions and agree to join the global Convention on Cluster Munitions.”

The cluster munition attack was carried out at around noon on 27 October 2015 in a residential area of Ahma, approximately 10km north-west of al-Talh in Sahar directorate, near Sa’da city. Ahma is approximately 40km south of the border with Saudi Arabia.

A local activist who visited the site several hours after the attack found three unexploded submunitions around 20m apart, one in the field of a local farm, another near a greenhouse and the third next to a mosque. The nearest military objective known to Amnesty International is a market in al-Talh, approximately 10km to the south-east, which is known to sell weapons and has been targeted by airstrikes on at least five different occasions since the start of the Saudi Arabia-led bombardment campaign in March.

Eyewitnesses described how, despite the complete absence of military aircraft, a series of rockets screamed across the sky and exploded in mid-air, followed by dozens of explosions on the ground. These accounts and the remnants found on the ground are consistent with the use of cluster munitions fired via surface-to-surface rockets, using a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS).

Salah al-Zar’a, 35, a local farmer, was on the main road 50m away when the strike occurred: “I was on my motorcycle going in the direction of Dhahyan with another friend, when I saw… four rockets coming down… Each went in a different direction with two minutes between each rocket. There were four explosions in the sky first and then 50 explosions when they hit the ground. They landed on a group of 30 houses and shops.”

Saleh al-Mu’awadh, 48, a farmer who has 10 children, spoke to Amnesty International over the phone from his hospital bed in al-Jamhouri hospital in Sa’da city: “I was passing by on my motorbike on the main road next to the attack site, when all I felt was pieces of shrapnel. The impact of the strike affected farms a couple of kilometres away from the site.”

According to medical personnel treating the patients, one of the injured, 25-year-old Abdelaziz Abd Rabbu is in a critical condition with shrapnel injuries to the abdomen and chest.

Abdelbari Hussein, 22, another civilian injured in the attack, told Amnesty International: “I was sitting in my shop when the attack happened. I did not hear a plane, all I heard was the explosions.” He sustained shrapnel injuries to the abdomen.

Even though the attack may have targeted Huthi and other armed groups among the civilian population, the use of inherently indiscriminate weapons like cluster munitions is absolutely prohibited by international humanitarian law. Any use of cluster weapons violates this rule.


Ref: 15102701

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