The New York-based rights organization said in its World Report 2018
on Thursday that Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a military campaign on Yemen since March 2015, has repeatedly attacked the impoverished country's populated areas.
The kingdom, it added, has deepened a humanitarian crisis in Yemen through imposing a blockade, destroying infrastructure and restricting humanitarian workers’ access to the conflict-ridden state.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at HRW, denounced war crimes committed in Yemen over the past almost three years, noting, “United Nations Security Council sanctions on Houthi leaders should be extended to senior [Saudi-led] coalition military leaders, including Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, for their role in obstructing aid and other abuses.”
The HRW accused Saudi Arabia and its allies of using Western-supplied arms and cluster munitions in their "indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes" in Yemen that have killed thousands of civilians.
The rights group also noted that it had documented six deadly Saudi air raids since December 2017.
Yemeni children protest against deadly Saudi airstrikes in the capital, Sana'a, on November 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
"Coalition military actions have violated laws-of-war prohibitions on restricting humanitarian assistance and on destroying objects essential to the survival of the civilian population," HRW said in its report.
"These violations, as well as the coalition’s disregard for the reported suffering of the civilian population, suggest that the coalition may be violating the prohibition against using starvation as a method of warfare, which is a war crime," the report added.
It further referred to the Western powers' complicity in the war on Yemen, demanding the UN to include Saudi leaders in its blacklist.
Meanwhile, Whitson told reporters that “the US, UK, France and others are risking complicity in unlawful coalition airstrikes by continuing to provide weapons to Saudi Arabia.”
“Faced with the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, governments should be urging the UN to enact sanctions against Saudi leaders, not selling them more bombs to use on Yemeni markets, schools, and hospitals," she added.
More than 13,600 people have been killed since the onset of the Saudi-led war on Yemen. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure has also been reduced to rubble in military strikes.
The Saudi aggression was launched in a bid to reinstate a former Riyadh-friendly government and to eliminate the Houthi Ansarullah movement, but it has achieved neither of its goals so far.
A total of 22.2 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid, 8.4 million at risk of famine, with the country experiencing one of the worst cholera outbreaks on record.