GENEVA - Three experts working for the U.N.â€™s top human rights body say the governments of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia may have been responsible for war crimes including rape, torture, disappearances and â€śdeprivation of the right to lifeâ€ť during 3Â˝ years of battling Yemeni rebels.
In their first report for the Human Rights Council, the experts also point to possible crimes by the Iran-aligned rebels, known as Houthis, who have been fighting the Saudi-led coalition and Yemenâ€™s government in a civil war since March 2015.
The experts documented some 6,475 deaths from March 2015 up until June of this year, but said the â€śreal figure is likely to be significantly higher.â€ť Other groups have estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed.
The experts also chronicled the damage from coalition airstrikes, the single most lethal force in the fighting, over the last year. A coalition airstrike struck a bus in northern Yemen earlier this month, killing more than 50 people, including 40 children, and wounding dozens.
They urged the international community to â€śrefrain from providing arms that could be used in the conflictâ€ť- an apparent reference to countries, including the United States and Britain, that help arm the coalition, as well as Iran, which the coalition has accused of arming the Houthis.
The experts visited some but not all parts of Yemen as they compiled the report.
â€ś(We have) reasonable grounds to believe that the governments of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are responsible for human rights violations,â€ť the report said. It cited violations including unlawful â€śdeprivation of the right to life,â€ť arbitrary detention, rape, torture, enforced disappearances and child recruitment.
Saudi, Emirati and Yemen officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday. On Twitter, Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash wrote that the UAE â€śmust review it, answer its merits and review what it says about the horrors of the Houthis.â€ť