Press briefing note on (1) Syria, (2) Yemen and (3) India / Pakistan, 4 October 2016

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 4 October 2016
Subject: (1) Syria, (2) Yemen and (3) India / Pakistan

(1) Syria

The human rights calamity unfolding in Aleppo demands bold new initiatives, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Tuesday, “including proposals to limit the use of the veto by the permanent members of the Security Council.”

“The attacks over the past ten days have been the most intense the inhabitants of eastern Aleppo have endured since the conflict began, and not a single neighbourhood is now considered safe. The use of weapons such as high-explosive blast bombs and incendiary weapons in heavily populated areas is having a devastating impact on the civilian population and structures.”

“I firmly believe that the time has come for strong leadership and bold actions, and that the UN Security Council should, without any further delay, adopt criteria to restrain members from using the veto when there are serious concerns that war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide may have been committed,” the High Commissioner said.

The full press release is available in English, French and Arabic on http://www.ohchr.org.

(2) Yemen

Yesterday, at around 17:00 in Taiz, at least 10 civilians – including six children – were killed, and 17 others were injured – including six more children and three women – after an artillery shell apparently fired by the Popular Committees affiliated with Al Houthis and Army Units loyal to former President Saleh struck a busy street next to a market in Bir Basha, Al Mudhaffar district.

Witnesses who spoke to our staff in Yemen said the street where the market was located was crowded with people at the time of the attack, and there had not been any armed confrontations between warring parties in the Bir Basha area prior to this terrible incident.

The shell appeared to have been fired from an area in Al Ta’iziyah district, where the artilleries of Popular Committees affiliated with Al Houthis and Army Units loyal to former president Saleh are positioned.

The overall casualty figures verified by our staff in Yemen from March 2015 up until last Friday, 30 September, stand at a total of 10,963 civilian casualties, including 4,014 people killed.

During August and September, when casualty numbers climbed steeply after the collapse of the cessation of hostilities, six times as many civilian casualties were reported to have been caused by the Coalition (279 killed /339 injured) as by the Houthis and their allies (46 killed / 62 injured). During the previous two months, the situation was the other way around, with the majority of casualties caused by the Houthis and their allies - at a ratio of just over three to one - but the total numbers were much lower.

(3) India / Pakistan

The High Commissioner is seriously concerned about the human rights situation in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the rising tensions between India and Pakistan.

We urge India and Pakistan to engage in a dialogue and to de-escalate the situation. The inflammatory remarks on both sides only fuel the tensions and could result in a further deterioration of the human rights situation.

We reiterate our call for unfettered and unconditional access to both Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir to enable us to independently and impartially monitor the human rights situation. We stand ready to support efforts to de-escalate the situation.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org), Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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