GENEVA (Reuters) - The top U.N. human rights official renewed his call on Monday for an international probe into possible war crimes committed in Yemen, saying the bombing of a funeral showed that violations continued unpunished.
An air strike, widely blamed on Saudi warplanes, ripped through a wake attended by some of Yemen’s top political and security officials on Saturday, killing 140 people.
Yemen’s Houthi movement fired ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia, and the United States said on Sunday a failed missile attack from Houthi-controlled areas targeted one of its warships.
Zeid Ra‘ad al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that countries belonging to the U.N. Human Rights Council had contributed to “a climate of impunity” in Yemen by failing to investigate adequately.
The council last month declined to set up an independent inquiry into abuses in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Shi‘ite Houthi fighters and forces loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saudi Arabia is among the 47 member states of the forum, which for the second year in a row voted to support a Yemeni probe that reports to Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi - a decision decried by human rights activists.
“The Human Rights Council’s inability to take decisive action by setting up an international investigation is contributing to a climate of impunity, and violations continue to occur on a regular basis,” Zeid said.
”Such outrageous attacks cannot be allowed to continue.”
He also called on all states contributing to the war to seriously reconsider their support to the warring parties.
Since the conflict flared up in March 2015, at least 4,125 civilians have been killed and 7,207 injured, the U.N. statement said, noting that casualties have risen since a cessation of hostilities collapsed in August.
In just the first 10 days of October, 369 civilians have been killed or injured, tripling the rate of September which recorded 379 casualties for the entire month, he said, adding that the latest incident could cause a further escalation.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Tom Miles and Alison Williams