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September 22, 2009

Calling Goldstone...

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This is what the response to an unfolding humanitarian crisis looks like when blame cannot be pinned on Israel.

UN Rights Official Calls for Investigation into Yemen Civilian Deaths

The U.N.'s Human Rights Chief is calling for an investigation into Yemeni air strikes that killed dozens of civilians. U.N. aid agencies say the humanitarian situation of the civilian population caught in the conflict in northern Yemen continues to deteriorate... U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay says she is deeply disturbed by eyewitness reports of an air attack Wednesday by Yemeni warplanes against a makeshift camp in northern Yemen... she is urging the government to launch an investigation and to refrain from launching similar attacks in the future.

They continue to call upon the Yemeni government and rebels to open a humanitarian corridor so they can safely deliver assistance to the civilians...the UNHCR is still trying to gain access to Saada province from neighboring Saudi Arabia...

The UNHCR and other U.N. agencies say they are strapped for cash. They say their appeals to the international community for money to run their humanitarian operations have fallen on deaf ears. They say, so far, they have received nothing. (VOA News, September 18, 2009)

Notice this Reuter's report uncritically reports the government line claiming the rebels are using human shields and have rejected calls for a truce. Contrast this with typical Reuter's reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where Palestinian claims are given prominence and Israeli government claims are treated with less credulity.

Yemen's president on Sunday accused northern rebels of killing innocent civilians and using "human shields"... Last week dozens of civilians were reported killed in two army air raids, sparking condemnation from aid organizations and Yemeni rights groups... A military spokesman also accused the Houthis of using "human shields" in a statement responding to footage published by the rebels appearing to show children killed in last week's air raid. He said the images were a "fabrication."

The Reuter's piece ends with the caution, "Media have had difficulty accessing the conflict zone and verifying conflicting reports from each side."

While the UN Human Rights Council focuses on the 9 month old Israeli-Gaza conflict, the past five weeks of intensified conflict in Yemen has seen the fighting reach the border of Saudi Arabia. Rebels claim that Saudi planes have bombed rebel-held areas. The Saudis deny this. The war is seen by many as a proxy war pitting Shiite Iran against Sunni Saudi Arabia. There is concern that the conflict is gaining momentum and may spread.

Posted by SS at September 22, 2009 12:39 PM

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