Yemen govt ends cooperation with UN rights mission

Aden (AFP) –


Yemen's government on Thursday announced it will end its cooperation with a UN human rights mission, accusing investigators of bias after a report on alleged war crimes.

The government came under fire last month after UN experts highlighted deadly air strikes by the regional Saudi-led coalition supporting it in the war with the Iran-linked Huthi rebels.

"The government refuses to extend the mission's mandate because its findings, outlined in the report, did not meet the standards of professionalism and impartiality or the basic principles of the United Nations," said a statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency.

It accused the UN group of "turning a blind eye" to the violations of the Shiite Huthi rebels, who the government has been battling since 2014.

On Wednesday, the investigators, appointed by the Human Rights Council a year ago, had requested they continue probing the "extremely alarming" situation in Yemen, amid resistance from Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The Saudi-led coalition has dismissed as "inaccurate" and "non-neutral" the UN experts' August 28 report, which accused both government forces and the Huthis of violations against international law.

The report said coalition air strikes had caused "most of the documented civilian casualties" and voiced "serious concerns about the targeting process applied by the coalition".

It listed a large number of strikes on residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings and medical facilities with no apparent military targets in the vicinity of the attacks.

Human Rights Watch last week criticised Riyadh's "campaign to discredit and undermine a UN investigation into abuses by all Yemen's warring parties", calling it "yet another blatant attempt to avoid scrutiny of the coalition's own actions in Yemen".

Yemen's conflict has left nearly 10,000 people dead since March 2015, when the Saudi-led alliance entered the war to bolster Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

It has sparked the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with three quarters of the population -- or 22 million people -- in need of humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.