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Yemen: Arab coalition blamed for most attacks on civilians

23rd Dec 2015
Yemen: Arab coalition blamed for most attacks on civilians

NEW YORK (AA) – A “disproportionate amount” of attacks on civilian areas in Yemen appears to have been carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, the UN human rights chief said Tuesday.

Speaking at the UN Security Council’s first public meeting on Yemen since the Saudi-led coalition begain its airstrikes in March, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein voiced “extreme concern” about the continuing heavy shelling in civilian areas as well as the destruction of hospitals and schools.

He said “all parties to the conflict” were responsible for these attacks, “although a disproportionate amount appeared to be the result of airstrikes carried out by coalition forces”.

Yemen’s devastating conflict has pitted Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh against the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, which was backed by an air campaign by Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies.

Zeid said more than 2,700 civilians had been killed and more than 5,300 injured since the start of the conflict.

“Sadly, it is the children who are bearing the brunt of the conflict in Yemen. There has been a steady increase in the number of children killed and injured this year alone,” he said. “Over 600 children have been killed and more than 900 have suffered serious injury. This is a five-fold increase compared with the entire year of 2014.”

Yemen’s warring parties agreed to a truce that came into effect on Dec. 15, but the cease-fire has been repeatedly violated ahead of a new round of UN-brokered peace talks set for Jan. 14.

UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, told the council that the recent peace talks in Switzerland revealed “deep divisions” between the factions and “trust between the parties remains weak”.

He said the ongoing conflict and the security vacuum it created was leading to an expansion of extremist groups in the country.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang said nearly 7.6 million people in Yemen now require emergency food assistance to survive.

“At least two million people are malnourished, including 320,000 children who suffer from severe malnutrition, a two-fold increase since March,” she said, adding that almost 170,000 Yemenis have fled to neighboring countries and more than 2.5 million others are now internally displaced.

Author: Mustafa Çağlayan
[Photo: Saudi-led coalition airstrike on residential areas in Sahoul Area of Ibb on 30 November 2015 leaving at least 4 dead. Photographer: Adil Ali Sharee/AA]

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