Yemeni official confirms: US pays victims of drone strikes

November 14, 2014

Image of drones

The US Government has provided funds for compensation payments to the victims of drone strikes, an official Yemeni source has confirmed.

Speaking to Reuters today, a source reported to be close to the Yemeni president said that compensation payments made by the Yemeni Government used funds originally paid by the United States.

The admission comes days after human rights organisation Reprieve, which assists the civilian victims of drone strikes, revealed new evidence suggesting the US government has secretly paid $100,000 to the families of two Yemeni men mistakenly killed in a US drone strike. Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni man who lost his brother-in-law and nephew in a 2013 drone strike, was offered a bag containing US dollar bills at a meeting with the Yemeni National Security Bureau (NSB).

According to the NSB official present, the money came from the US. Despite private admissions to Mr bin Ali Jaber and his family, the US has never publicly admitted that the strike was a mistake, and that the two men were innocent civilians. The deaths have never been investigated, and the US has never apologised to the families. The source also said the largest payment to date was that made to victims of a US strike in December 2013, in which 12 members of a wedding party were killed. Details of that payment were unearthed by Reprieve earlier this year.

Namir Shabibi, an investigator at Reprieve, said: “This is yet more confirmation that the US has been paying hush money to the civilian victims of its drone wars in Yemen. What the US Government fails to understand is that cash without accountability is not an answer. What the families need is an explanation for the deaths of their innocent relatives – and equally, the American people deserve to know what is being done in their name, with their money.”