Over 100 people died after a series of air strikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition on a detention centre in Yemen yesterday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
At least 40 people survived the strikes which the coalition said was aimed at “a military site which belongs to the Houthi militias in Dhamar”, noting that it was “a storehouse for drones and air defence missiles.”
This claim has since been refuted by the ICRC. “The location that was hit has been visited by ICRC before,” said Franz Rauchenstein, head of the rights group for Yemen. “It’s a college building that has been empty and has been used as a detention facility for a while. What is most disturbing is that [the attack was] on a prison. To hit such a building is shocking and saddening – prisoners are protected by international law.”
UN special envoy to Yemen, Michael Griffith, condemned the attack, which he described as a “tragedy” and made calls for an inquiry into the incident, adding that “Accountability needs to prevail”.
The attack is the deadliest this year by the coalition which has been criticised previously for targeting non-military sites. In October 2016, the coalition launched air strikes on a prison in the strategic Red Sea port city of Hudaydah which it claimed was used by Houthis as a storehouse.
Saudi Arabia is heading an Arab coalition, which includes the UAE, fighting in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthis. The coalition entered the war in 2015 to reinstate the UN-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. However the UAE has been found to be backing the Southern Transitional Council in an effort to split Yemen in to two countries, North and South, contrary to the objectives of the coalition.
The Emirates has also been accused of operating secret prisons and subjecting hundreds of people to torture in Yemen.