'Tens of thousands of civilians killed in Yemen'
UN expert says 80% of Yemeni population is in need of humanitarian assistance just to survive
The actual number of civilians killed in Yemen’s civil war could top previous estimates by a sizeable degree, according to a UN expert.
"The real count would be tens of thousands of civilians directly killed in the conflict," said Melissa Parke, a member of the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen created by the UN Human Rights Council, speaking on the group’s new report on Yemen published Tuesday.
She added: "24.1 million Yemenis -- that is, 80% of Yemen's population -- are in need of humanitarian assistance just to survive."
She told Anadolu Agency that the official civilian toll from the conflict is very low, about 10,000.
Parke, an Australian politician, said states which supply weapons to the parties in the conflict should not be doing so.
She mentioned no names, but the U.S., Britain, and France are the leading countries which sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
"They should prohibit authorization of arms transfers and not supply arms themselves to parties in the conflict," Parke said.
She said there are allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by all the parties to the conflict.
"Particularly in relation to the south, UAE-backed forces are controlling detention facilities including secret detention facilities," she added.
Parke said Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen’s largest city, also have secret detention facilities.
She said in some cases detainees in these facilities are being tortured and sexually abused.
"We have documented cases of rape committed by UAE-backed forces," Parke added.
The experts’ report details a host of possible war crimes committed by various parties to the conflict over the past five years.
The experts "found that the governments of Yemen and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Houthis and affiliated popular committees have enjoyed a 'pervasive lack of accountability' for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law."
The group of experts identified, where possible, individuals who may be responsible for international crimes, and an updated confidential list of individuals has been submitted to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when the Iran-aligned Houthi group overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
The conflict escalated the following year when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains in Yemen and supporting the country’s pro-Saudi government.