UN Security Council calls for 'credible' investigation of Yemen bus attack

The US, France and Britain -- three of the five permanent council members -- have supported the Saudi coalition in its military campaign, but have expressed concern over the heavy toll on civilians.

Published: 11th August 2018 09:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2018 09:25 AM   |  A+A-

The wreckage of a bus remains at the site of an airstrike in Saada, Yemen. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

UNITED STATES/UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council called Friday for a credible and transparent investigation into the death of at least 29 children in a Saudi-led coalition attack on a bus in Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition earlier announced that it had ordered an investigation into the air strike on Thursday that also wounded at least 48 others in the northern rebel stronghold of Saada.

British Ambassador Karen Pierce, who holds the council presidency, told reporters following a closed-door meeting on Yemen that "if any investigation that is held is not credible, the council will obviously want to review that" and decide "if more is necessary."

The council did not order a separate investigation but "will now consult with the UN and others as to how the investigation can best be taken forward," said Pierce.

The council met at the request of five countries: Bolivia, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, and Sweden, which are all non-permanent council members. 

Kuwait, also a non-permanent council member, is part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting Huthi rebels in Yemen.

The United States, France and Britain -- three of the five permanent council members -- have supported the Saudi coalition in its military campaign, but have expressed concern over the heavy toll on civilians.

Ahead of the meeting, the Netherlands had stressed that the investigation must be independent, suggesting that the coalition's decision to open up a probe was insufficient. 

"We have seen the images of children who died," Dutch Deputy Ambassador Lise Gregoire-van Haaren told reporters. "What is essential at this moment in time is to have a credible and independent investigation." 

Saudi investigation

The council did not specify in the agreed statement to the press that the investigation should be independent -- a demand that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also made in a statement condemning the attack on Thursday.

Council members expressed their "great concern" and "called for a credible and transparent investigation," Pierce said.

Human Rights Watch criticised the council's failure to demand an impartial investigation.

"The sad truth is Saudis have been given a chance to investigate themselves and the results are laughable," said HRW's deputy UN director Akshaya Kumar.

Out of 75 cases of civilian deaths investigated by the coalition, only two resulted in an admission of fault, she said.

Last year, the coalition was put on a UN blacklist of child rights' violators for killing or injuring 683 children, and attacking dozens of schools and hospitals.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a military campaign to restore the internationally recognized government to power and push back the Huthis, who still hold the capital Sanaa.

The war has left nearly 10,000 people dead and unleashed what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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