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HRW: Saudi-led Airstrikes Use Banned Cluster Bombs

by VOA News May 03, 2015

A human rights group said it has 'credible evidence' the Saudi-led coalition has used banned cluster bombs supplied by the United States in airstrikes against Houthi forces in Yemen.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Sunday cluster bombs pose 'long-term dangers' to civilians and are prohibited by a 2008 treaty adopted by 116 countries. Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the U.S., however, did not adopt the treaty.

HRW said photographs, video and other evidence have emerged since mid-April indicating that cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in coalition airstrikes in Yemen's northern Saada Governorate, the traditional Houthi stronghold bordering Saudi Arabia.

The human rights group said it has ascertained through 'analysis of satellite imagery' that the cluster bombs appeared to have landed on 'a cultivated plateau, within 600 meters of several dozen buildings in four to six village clusters.'

'Saudi-led cluster munition airstrikes have been hitting areas near villages, putting local people in danger,' said Steve Goose, HRW arms director. 'These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members and the supplier, the U.S., are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians.'

HRW said cluster munitions contain scores of submunitions designed to explode after spreading out over a wide area, putting anybody in the area at the time of the attack 'at risk of death or injury.'

The group said many submunitions often do not explode, 'becoming de factor landmines.'

The munitions used in Yemen appeared to be the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons supplied to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by the U.S. 'in recent years,' HRW said.

The weapon is banned by the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but Washington permits its use and export because it boasts an unexploded ordnance rate of less than one percent.

HRW called for that loophole to be closed and for deliveries of the weapons to cease.

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