A young girl is in hospital after being pulled from the rubble of her apartment block, destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. The girl happened to be the only one in her family of eight to survive the fatal attack.
The badly injured Bothaina Mohamed Mansour al-Rimi is bed-ridden in a hospital in Sanaa.
Despite several fractures in her face and head, Mansour’s condition is stable, her doctor says.
“MRI indicated multiple fractures in the left cheek, as well as breaks close to the eye socket and across her forehead, this is in addition to general bruises in the head. The child doesn’t need any surgical intervention, she has been prescribed the needed medications, and now, her condition is stable,” Aref Dabaan told RT’s video news agency Ruptly.
The doctor said the girl is aged six; earlier the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that the rescued girl was four years old.
The attack targeted the Faj Attan residential area on the southern outskirts of Sanaa and reduced at least two buildings to rubble, while a third was severely damaged. Fourteen civilians were killed in the August 25 attack and another 16 injured, the ICRC reported.
Bothaina’s mother, father and all of her siblings were among those killed, Ruptly reports.
Eight of the victims were members of the same family, including five children between 3 and 10 years old, the ICRC detailed, adding that it “strongly deplored” the attack.
“Such loss of civilian life is outrageous and runs counter to the basic tenets of the law of armed conflict,” the deputy head of ICRC’s delegation in Yemen, Carlos Morazzani, said after visiting the site.
“From what we saw on the ground, there was no apparent military target,” he added.
Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, Lynn Maalouf, urged the UN “to look at the evidence” and take action against the Saudis, adding that “schools and hospitals… lie in ruins; hundreds of young lives [were] lost to reckless air strikes.”
“There are serious questions for UN leaders, who last year made the shameful decision to remove the coalition from the list of violators of children’s rights in conflict.
“There is an urgent need to put Saudi Arabia under scrutiny for the raft of crimes under international law and other human rights violations its forces have committed in Yemen,” she noted.
The Saudi-led coalition assumed responsibility for the deaths of civilians killed in an airstrike carried out in Faj Attan, saying a “technical mistake” led to the incident.
The coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Maliki, expressed “deep sorrow” over what he called an “unintentional and accidental incident” that resulted in “collateral damage,” and also expressed “sincere sympathy” to the airstrike victims’ relatives, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.
Al-Maliki said the coalition forces had completed the investigation into the incident and conducted a “comprehensive review” of selected military objectives to examine whether they were compatible with international humanitarian law and customary rules of targeting. The coalition “was not intentionally targeting” the residential buildings that were eventually hit in the strike, he added, accusing the Houthis of deliberately using civilians as human shields by placing their military facilities in residential districts.
A UN report, leaked earlier this month, indicates that Riyadh-led coalition strikes have resulted in hundreds of Yemeni children being killed or maimed. The confidential draft was to be presented by the UN Secretary-General, but first it was seen and published by Reuters and Foreign Policy (FP) magazine. The report alleges that Saudi forces and their Gulf allies were complicit in over half of the deaths and injuries of children in Yemen last year.
“The killing and maiming of children remained the most prevalent violation” of children’s rights in Yemen, the 41-page paper says, as cited by FP. “In the reporting period, attacks carried out by air were the cause of over half of all child casualties, with at least 349 children killed and 333 children injured,” the report added, urging that Riyadh and its allies be added to a black list of countries violating children’s rights.
The Saudi-led coalition launched its aerial bombing campaign in support of the ousted Yemeni president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in March 2015. The campaign targets the remnants of the country’s military loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthi rebels. The casualties in the fighting had exceeded 10,000 dead and 40,000 injured by January 2017, according to the UN estimates, with civilians making up a large proportion of the victims.
The bombing failed to bring victory to the Saudi-backed side in the conflict, but devastated Yemeni cities and infrastructure.
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesman Rupert Colville said in July that since March 2015, “OHCHR has documented 13,609 civilian casualties, including 5,021 killed and 8,588 injured. These numbers are based on the casualties individually verified by the UN human rights office in Yemen.”
Colville noted however that that the “overall number” of civilians killed could be much higher and estimated it to be more than 11,000.