NEW DELHI: Human Rights Watch released its annual report for the war-torn country of Yemen, chronicling the events of the past year. It concluded that over 4000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemen conflict on behalf of the country’s ousted President, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In 2016, the violence escalated as the Saudi aerial and ground bombardment -- that had started in March 2015 -- continued, backed by the United States and United Kingdom. The report states that as of October 10, at least 4,125 civilians had been killed and 7,207 wounded since the start of the campaign, the majority by coalition airstrikes, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The HRW report states that “Dozens of coalition airstrikes indiscriminately or disproportionately killed and wounded thousands of civilians in violation of the laws of war. The coalition also used internationally banned cluster munitions.”

Further, “Houthi and allied forces committed serious laws-of-war violations by laying banned antipersonnel landmines, mistreating detainees, and launching indiscriminate rockets into populated areas in Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia, killing hundreds of civilians.”

Yemeni warring parties began peace talks in Kuwait in April, following a cessation of hostilities, but airstrikes and fighting on the ground continued. This latest round of peace talks broke down in August, subsequent efforts to bring the parties back to negotiations have failed, and coalition airstrikes and ground fighting continue.

Pointing to the lack of accountability on all sides, the report notes that “none of the states’ party to the conflict carried out meaningful investigations into their forces’ alleged violations.”

“The Saudi Arabia-led coalition killed several dozen civilians in three apparently unlawful airstrikes in September and October 2016. The coalition’s use of United States-supplied weapons in two of the strikes, including a bomb delivered to Saudi Arabia well into the conflict, puts the US at risk of complicity in unlawful attacks,” the report notes.

Human Rights Watch has documented 58 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes since the start of the campaign, which have killed nearly 800 civilians and hit homes, markets, hospitals, schools, civilian businesses, and mosques. Some attacks may amount to war crimes. These include airstrikes on a crowded market in northern Yemen on March 15 that killed 97 civilians, including 25 children, and another on a crowded funeral in Sanaa on October that killed over 100 civilians and wounded hundreds more.

“Repeated coalition airstrikes on factories and other civilian economic structures raise serious concerns that the coalition deliberately sought to inflict damage to Yemen’s limited production capacity,” the report states. Human Rights Watch investigated 18 apparently unlawful strikes, some of which used US or UK-supplied weapons, on 14 civilian economic sites. The strikes killed 130 civilians and wounded 173 more. Following the attacks, many of the factories ended production and hundreds of workers lost their livelihoods.

Human Rights Watch has documented the coalition using internationally banned cluster munitions in at least 16 attacks that targeted populated areas, killing and wounding dozens.

Human Rights Watch has identified six types of air-dropped and ground-launched cluster munitions in multiple locations in Yemen, including those produced in the US and Brazil. Amnesty International has further documented the use of UK-made cluster munitions.

In May, the Obama administration suspended transfers of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia after reports of their use in civilian areas in Yemen. Textron, US-based manufacturer of the CBU-105, announced it would stop production of the weapon in August.

Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and other coalition states are not party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. At a meeting in Geneva on May 19, a Yemeni official said the Hadi-led government is considering ratifying the convention following use of the weapons in Yemen.

Houthi and allied forces laid numerous landmines, including banned antipersonnel mines, in Yemen’s southern and eastern governorates of Aden, Abyan, Marib, Lahj, and Taizz since the beginning of the current conflict. Landmines have killed and wounded dozens of civilians, including children.

Human Rights Watch has documented numerous airstrikes that unlawfully struck or damaged health facilities in Yemen. On August 15, 2016, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit an Medecins Sans Frontiers, MSF-supported hospital in Hajja, killing 19 people, and the fourth on an MSF facility. Following the strike, the organization pulled its staff out of six hospitals in northern Yemen.

Houthi and allied forces engaged in military operations around Aden, Taizz, and other areas repeatedly exposed hospitals, patients and health workers to unjustified risk.

According to OHCHR, as of 2016, over 600 health facilities have closed due to damage caused by the conflict, shortage of critical supplies and lack of health workers.

More than 80 percent of the country’s total population – 20 million people – have been in need of humanitarian assistance. Parties to the conflict have continued to block or restrict critical relief supplies from reaching civilians.

Houthi and allied forces have confiscated food and medical supplies from civilians entering Taizz and blocked humanitarian assistance from reaching the city, contributing to the near collapse of the health system.

The coalition has imposed a naval blockade on Yemen, limiting the importation of vital goods like fuel, which is urgently needed to power generators to hospitals and pump water to civilian residences. In August 2016, the coalition suspended all commercial flights to Sanaa. This is “having serious implications for patients seeking urgent medical treatment abroad,” according to the UN.

“Aid workers have been kidnapped, unlawfully detained, and killed while engaged in humanitarian operations in Yemen. Humanitarian agencies are frequently denied access to areas controlled by Houthi and Saleh-aligned forces,” the report notes.

Among repeated violations against children by parties to the conflict, Human Rights Watch has documented 58 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes that killed at least 192 children, and multiple airstrikes that struck or damaged schools. The report notes that the Houthis have also endangered schools and used child soldiers. However, the coalition was responsible for 60 percent of the 785 children killed and 1,168 children wounded, and nearly half of the 101 attacks on schools and hospitals, according to the report.

“None of the warring parties carried out credible investigations into their forces’ alleged laws-of-war violations in Yemen,” the report states. “The coalition-appointed Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) concluded initial investigations into nine allegedly unlawful strikes. JIAT’s results differed drastically from those of the UN, Human Rights Watch and others who documented some of the same strikes. JIAT did not release full investigation reports nor detailed information on their members, their methodology, including how they determine which strikes to investigate, or whether or not they have the power to ensure prosecutions of individuals responsible for alleged war crimes. The US is not known to have conducted investigations into any alleged unlawful strikes in which its forces may have taken part,” it notes.