Yemen govt threatens to end cooperation with UN investigators

Abu Dhabi: Yemen’s government on Thursday threatened to end its cooperation with a UN rights mission, accusing investigators of bias after a report raised fears of war crimes in the conflict-hit country.

The government, allied with a regional Saudi-led military coalition battling Yemeni rebels, came under fire last month after UN experts highlighted deadly air strikes by the alliance.

“With our allies in the coalition, we are studying the best way to deal with the UN team and looking at all options, including ending or not extending the team’s mandate after they proved their bias and inaccuracy,” Mohammed Asker, Yemen’s human rights minister, told a press conference in Abu Dhabi.

The coalition has dismissed as “inaccurate” and “non-neutral” the UN experts’ August 28 report, which accused both government forces and the Huthi rebels 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.

UN-backed talks between the government and the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels were scheduled to open in Geneva on Thursday.

But as of Thursday afternoon the rebel delegation had not yet left for the Swiss city.

A rebel spokesman had accused the coalition, which controls Yemen’s airspace, of failing to provide air transport.

Yemen’s devastating conflict has left nearly 10,000 people dead since March 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition intervened to fight the Huthis closing in on the last bastion of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government.

The UN has described the situation in Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

[source_without_link]Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]