"Many more innocent people stand to lose their lives if this program continues unchecked by Congress or the courts."
U.S. President Donald Trump is waging a "disturbing" assassination campaign in Yemen that "eclipses all that came before it in scale and brutality," according to a report (pdf) released Friday by the human rights organization Reprieve.
The Trump administration "has overseen a projected fivefold increase in drone strikes" in Yemen while also expanding ground operations, the report notes. It continues:
Since President Trump took office, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has recorded at least 90 U.S. airstrikes in Yemen. In just a few months, President Trump has already more than doubled the total number of airstrikes conducted by President Obama in Yemen in the whole of 2016 (39) and is carrying out at least one strike every two days. If strikes continue at the current rate, President Trump will have conducted 204 strikes by the end of 2017.
At least two children have already been killed this year and many more innocent people stand to lose their lives if this program continues unchecked by Congress or the courts.
Reprieve goes on to document reported incidents in which Yemeni women and children have been maimed or killed by American drone strikes. In several cases, women from villages struck by drones "suffered miscarriages as a result of the trauma" of U.S. strikes and ground raids.
"In the devastating aftermath of these sudden and unexplained U.S. operations, survivors and witnesses are still struggling to make sense of what happened," Reprieve observes. "The sustained campaign of drone strikes and ground raids against the residents of these areas represents collective punishment of entire communities. "
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The report argues that the soaring death toll from Trump's drone campaign raises "disturbing questions" about the president's counterterrorism strategy, which has expanded American military operations and resulted in record civilian casualties. The U.S., the report notes, is doing nothing to help answer these questions: "What little investigation there has been [of civilian casualties] does not comply with international standards."
Trump is hardly alone in waging his vicious and unaccountable drone war. The report calls U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May a "compliant co-pilot" in the program, and notes that "Trump's drone assassinations in Yemen are being undertaken with the full cooperation" of the British government.
"It is shocking that people can end up on kill lists based on unreliable, circumstantial, and often inaccurate data."
—Maya Foa, Reprieve"British bases help U.S. drones find their targets, while British intelligence officers in Yemen draw up kill lists of targets for drones to strike," the report adds.
Reprieve's report comes as the humanitarian crisis in Yemen—already considered the most severe in the world—continues to worsen.
The report also comes alongside a new project launched by Reprieve on Friday titled "Death by Data," which aims to "highlight how the U.S. and its allies use so-called 'metadata' to identify targets to kill in drone strikes." Visitors to the campaign's website can take a quiz to find out if they are at risk of being placed on the U.S. government's "kill list."
"It is shocking that people can end up on kill lists based on unreliable, circumstantial, and often inaccurate data," concluded Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve. "As President Trump ramps up the rate of drone strikes in Yemen and elsewhere, close allies like Theresa May should be refusing to play any part in this illegal assassination campaign. We need full transparency and proper oversight of how intelligence is used to ensure the U.K. government end its complicity in this program of Death by Data."