Yemen: Call for independent probe into deadly prison airstrikes |

The other prison is run by the Ansar Allah movement, also known as the Houthis, who have been fighting the internationally recognized, coalition-backed government for the past seven years.

The facility is believed to be holding 1,300 people before trial, as well as 700 migrants, when it was hit by three consecutive air strikes on January 21.

‘Strange and desperate’

OHCHR Spokesperson Rupert Colville speak staff from its Yemen office were in Sa’ada this week as part of an interagency mission, and the information they gathered “paints a picture of chaos and despair” in the wake of the airstrikes.

“We are working to verify civilian casualties but so far we know that around 91 people were killed, many when the upper floor of a building collapsed and 236 others were injured. “. Mr. Colville told journalists in Geneva.

The most seriously injured detainees were taken to Al Jomhori Hospital in the city, which is struggling with the number of patients who need urgent treatment and save lives.

Independent probe guarantee

The Saudi-led coalition on Thursday announced it was investigating the airstrikes, according to media reports, and Colville said the message was repeated Friday morning.

“We urge them to ensure that the investigation is consistent with international standards and that is transparent, independent and impartial, to determine why the prison was attacked, to ensure individual accountability. for any violations of international humanitarian law and determine the measures and procedures necessary to prevent such incidents in the future,” he say.

“During our group’s recent visit this week, we saw no indication that this site, formerly a barracks, continued to have a military function. And for this reason, we asked the alliance to share their information with us.”

Conflict escalates

Ahead of the airstrikes, OHCHR warned of the escalating conflict in Yemen.

Throughout 2021, the United Nations recorded just under 600 coalition airstrikes per month across Yemen, and 340 missile and drone strikes by Ansar Allah on Saudi Arabian territory. .

So far this year, there have been 1,403 coalition airstrikes and 39 cross-border attacks by the Houthis, mainly against Saudi Arabia and also the United Arab Emirates.

“As hostilities intensify across Yemen, we remind the parties to the conflict that international humanitarian law must be carefully respected in the course of hostile acts.” Mr. Colville said. “This includes taking all possible measures to verify that targets are indeed military targets at the time they are intended to strike.”

Meanwhile, Yemeni Government forces continued to mount a major counterattack against Ansar Allah in the strategic city of Marib, and in the adjacent capital Shabwa, leading to more violence.

Rebels launched a rocket on Wednesday night, hitting a multi-lane road opposite a military camp in Marib, killing several soldiers who were gathered on the side of the road.

OHCHR verified that three civilians, who were on the road at the same time, were killed and nine others were injured.

Free UN staff

The office has also asked Ansar Allah to immediately release two UN staff members who have been “unacceptably detained” since early November in the capital Sana’a.

Staff members working for OHCHR and the UN cultural agency, UNESCOcorresponding.

Mr. Colville said no information has been provided about the grounds or legal basis for their detention, and they have not been able to contact the family.

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