“Aden’s civilians are already in dire straits, without being attacked, detained, and held hostage,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), said, as quoted in a HRW statement.
HRW cited recent incidents in the southern port city of Aden where Houthi rebels and their allies shot dead two women and unlawfully detained 10 aid workers in April.
The watchdog referred to the incidents as war crimes and urged the Houthis to investigate and appropriately punish all persons responsible for the abuses. HRW also called on the pro-Houthi forces to abide by international humanitarian law and to protect civilians.
Yemen is currently enduring violent clashes between forces loyal to the country's president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and several armed groups, including the Houthi rebels. In March, a Saudi-led international coalition launched airstrikes against Houthi positions in Yemen upon Hadi's request. Even though the coalition has officially announced the end to its air campaign, the strikes continue.
On Wednesday, Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Mahafoudh Bahah said that civilian casualties from the Houthi invasion exceed many times the damages caused by the Saudi-led airstrikes.
The same day, Yemen's mission to the United Nations called for ground forces to intervene to save the country from the Houthi rebels. The appeal runs counter to the international community's calls for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen or at least a "humanitarian pause."
Yemen's appeal comes as UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is to hold high-level talks with Yemen's president and top Saudi officials, scheduled to take place on Thursday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The officials are to discuss regional security issues and a renewal of talks on finding a political solution to the crisis in Yemen.