The Saudi-led coalition battling rebels in Yemen used banned cluster bombs in attacks near two schools this month, Human Rights Watch said. The watchdog said that the alliance fired Brazilian-made rockets containing the outlawed munitions on December 6, near two schools in the Houthi rebel stronghold province of Saada, killing two civilians and wounding six including a child.
That incident came a day after Saudi Arabia joined the US and Brazil in abstaining from a UN General Assembly vote that overwhelmingly endorsed an international ban on cluster bomb use.
“Brazil should be on notice that its rockets are being used in unlawful attacks in the Yemeni war,” said HRW arms director Steve Goose.
“Cluster munitions are prohibited weapons that should never be used under any circumstances due to the harm inflicted on civilians. Brazil should make an immediate commitment to ending production and export of cluster munitions.”
The weapons can contain dozens of smaller bomblets that disperse over large areas, often continuing to kill and maim civilians long after they are dropped.
The Saudi-led coalition this week said it had made “limited use” of British-made cluster bombs, a type of weapon which 100 countries have already pledged not to use.
The alliance, which intervened in support of Yemen’s government in March 2015 after the Houthis overran much of the country’s northern and central regions, has come under repeated criticism over civilian casualties.
Since then, the war has killed more than 7,000 people and wounded nearly 37,000, the United Nations says.