Yemen is humanitarian catastrophe. US officials don’t want you to know why

A boat carrying 140 Somali refugees was traveling from Yemen to Sudan in the dark, early hours of March 17 when suddenly an Apache helicopter appeared overhead. Hovering over the bodies huddled on the deck below, it opened fire, killing 42 people on board.

“I knew too well that my daughter was between life and death when she went on this journey,” Sahara Osman, the mother of one of the victims told Al Jazeera. “But I have never heard of missiles raining on civilians on a boat.”

Last week, a United Nations investigation accused the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen of firing those missiles. But are the coalition countries alone to blame? After all, the United States supplies billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment used in the fighting. In 2016, for example, the United States sold $3.5 billion worth of Apache helicopters to the United Arab Emirates, a coalition member that has naval forces in the area where the missiles were fired in March. The U.S. regularly makes similar weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, all of whom are coalition members.

Since 2015, Human Rights Watch has documented 81 apparently unlawful coalition strikes in Yemen and found U.S.-supplied weaponry at 23 of those sites, including the March 2016 Mastaba market attack which killed at least 97 civilians, and the October 2016 attack on a funeral service in Sana, which killed at least 100 people and wounded more than 500.

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