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  • Forensic experts investigate the scene at the community hall where Saudi-led warplanes struck a funeral in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, October 9, 2016

    Forensic experts investigate the scene at the community hall where Saudi-led warplanes struck a funeral in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, October 9, 2016 | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 October 2017

One year has passed since the devastating 2016 attack and the war in Yemen continues despite tremendous suffering. 

On October 8, 2016, the Saudi-led coalition bombed a crowdfunded funeral ceremony in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

The attack, which has been described by Human Rights Watch as an apparent war crime, killed at least 100 people and wounded over 500 others, including children.

Doctors Without Borders reported that their hospitals had treated over 400 victims.

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“My friend and his father were killed at the funeral hall massacre, they didn’t find them for two months,” said Ahmed Jahaf, a Yemeni graphic designer and anti-war activist, in an interview with teleSUR.

The scene of the attack, filled with charred and mutilated bodies is still fresh in the minds of witnesses and the family and friends of those at the funeral.

Witnesses reported that around 3:30pm, two rounds of air dropped munitions had broken through the ceiling of the community hall and detonated intermittently.

The first explosions had killed and injured many victims instantly while the second devastated first responders and those entering the community hall to help victims.  

The munitions were identified as  U.S.-manufactured air-dropped GBU-12 Paveway II 500-pound laser-guided bomb. Saudi-coalition forces immediately denied involvement in the attack but later expressed support for an independent investigation spearheaded by the U.S.  

“Nobody could believe what happened for days after the massacre. It was horrible and unbelievable,” Jahaf continued.

“After one year, the anniversary of this massacre must serve as a reminder for the need for justice to be served. It is an unforgettable and unforgivable crime. People are angry that there has been no action.”

At least 20 high-ranking officials affiliated with the former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress along with members of Ansar Allah, often called the Houthis, were in attendance at the funeral. Saudi Arabia initiated their bombing campaign against Saleh´s forces and the Houthis in March 2015.

Saudi Arabia, the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council, has a long track record of indiscriminate violence in Yemen including the use of cluster bombs and other tactics such as bombing civilian infrastructure, schools, hospitals, farms, grain silos, and other non-military targets.

Already an impoverished nation before the war, nearly 80 percent of Yemen is reported to be in dire need of aid. The Saudi-led coalition has virtually blocked any fuel and aid shipments to the nation which imports a vast majority of its food and medical supplies. According to estimates, 1.8 million children are acutely malnourished, and a recent Cholera epidemic has now expanded to 5,000 cases a day.

While a report by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, between March 2015 and October 2016, 4,125 civilians had been killed and 7,207 wounded in Yemen, the vast majority of which were a result of coalition-led bombings. The bombings were described as the “single largest cause of casualties” in that year.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has added Saudi Arabia to a new list alongside other warring parties in Yemen this year. A U.N. report says the Saudi-led coalition has killed over 700 civilians, and damaged some 40 hospitals and public schools. Recent attacks have wiped out entire families.

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U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price, in response to the funeral bombing, said the U.S. was “deeply disturbed” by the attack, “which, if confirmed, would continue the troubling series of attacks striking Yemeni civilians.” Price indicated that the U.S. had “initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support” to the coalition and was “prepared to adjust our support.”

However, U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen has not ceased and no formal outcome has resulted from the U.S.’ internal review of the funeral bombing, let alone general policy towards Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen. 

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