UN condemns Saudi air strikes on the Yemen

An elderly victim of a recent Saudi bombing raid on Yemen
An elderly victim of a recent Saudi bombing raid on Yemen

THE United Nations has strongly condemned the latest Saudi airstrikes against Yemen in which at least 12 civilians, including children, were killed, stressing that they are an example of the ‘brutality’ of the Yemeni conflict and ‘disregard’ for civilians’ safety.

‘All parties to the conflict continue to show a disregard for the protection of civilians and the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants in the conduct of hostilities,’ the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said on Sunday.

McGoldrick’s remarks came two days after three women and six children from the same family were killed in a Saudi airstrike on their home in Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada. The head of the local health department, Dr Abdel-Ilah al-Azzi, said the attack at dawn on Friday targeted the family home of Taha al-Dharafi in Mahda district on the southwestern outskirts of Sa’ada city, located 240 kilometres north of the capital Sana’a, and also left three other people injured.

Three people were also killed in a Saudi airstrike on a private vehicle in the same Yemeni province. Ahmed Ben Lassoued, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Yemen, has described the Saudi aerial and naval blockade on Yemen as one of the main causes of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, stressing that the measure has disrupted the import and export of food, fuel and medical supplies as well as humanitarian aid.

Last month, the UN announced that more than 17 million people in Yemen are currently food-insecure, of whom 6.8 million are severely food-insecure and in need of immediate aid.

It underscored that the Yemeni conflict has left 18.8 million people in need of assistance, including 10.3 million who require immediate assistance to save or sustain their lives.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

But, despite incurring great expense, the Riyadh regime has, however, failed in its goals. The military aggression has claimed the lives of thousands of people, mostly civilians. More than 200 Yemeni children have lost their lives and hundreds more have sustained injuries in the Saudi-led air strikes since the beginning of the current year.

‘In 2017, 201 children killed in Yemen: 152 boys and 49 girls,’ the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Resident Representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relano, wrote in a Twitter post on Monday. She also said that 347 Yemeni children, including 113 girls, have been maimed as a result of the Yemeni conflict, and that 377 boys have been recruited in the ongoing fighting there this year alone.

Relano’s statements just came three days after at least 12 civilians, including children, were killed in the Saudi aerial attacks on Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada. The UNICEF resident representative in Yemen said four girls and two boys aged between two and 14 years were killed in that airstrike, – however, she stopped short of condemning Saudi Arabia for the attack.

Earlier this year, UNICEF announced that at least 1,546 children had been killed and 2,450 others injured in the Yemen conflict so far. Relano said on January 11 that some 2,000 schools across Yemen can no longer be used because they have been damaged, destroyed or are used as shelters or for military purposes. The senior UN official called on all parties in the conflict to stop attacks on schools and protect children.

‘Schools have to be zones of peace at all times, a sanctuary where children can learn, grow, play and be safe,’ Relano said. ‘Children should never risk their lives only to attend school.’ Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate its supporter Hadi and to knock out the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The latter has cautioned the international community against providing a cover for Saudi Arabia’s atrocities in Yemen, as the death toll from the Saudi-led war on the impoverished country increases by the day.

Ansarullah spokesman Mohammad Abdulsalam wrote on his Facebook page last Friday that more Saudi crimes would only lead to greater steadfastness on the part of the Yemenis in support of their dignity and the sovereignty of their homeland. He also called on the Popular Committees and allied army soldiers to step up their operations against the Saudi military and mercenaries. The remarks came hours after the three women and six children from the same family were killed last Friday.

Abdel-Ilah al-Azzi, the head of the local health department, said: ‘We are recording all the crimes of the enemy and we will not forget them. All the criminals will be put on trial soon, God willing.’ Saudi Arabia has been leading a brutal military campaign against Yemen for more than two years to eliminate the Houthis and reinstall a Riyadh-friendly regime, but it has failed to do either. The Saudi-led offensive has also taken a heavy toll on Yemen’s infrastructure and led to a humanitarian crisis and a cholera epidemic.

The number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen has exceeded 419,800 while almost 2,000 people have died since the outbreak of the epidemic in April, according to the latest figures provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

More than 40 people have been killed in renewed clashes between fighters from the Houthi Ansarullah movement and Saudi-backed forces near the Yemeni port city of Mukha over the past few days. Military officials and witnesses at local hospitals said on Sunday that 16 Houthis and seven Saudi-backed militants lost their lives in the fighting east of the city.

Also, 20 pro-Saudi militants were killed in a Houthi strike on a major military base in the southwestern Ta’izz Province, situated some 40 kilometres east of Mukha, last Thursday.

Mukha has been the scene of fierce fighting between the Saudi-backed Yemeni forces and the Houthi fighters in recent months.

Back in February, the pro-Saudi militants claimed they had seized full control of the strategic Red Sea port. Meanwhile, a media centre affiliated to Ansarullah said 12 Emiratis were killed and 23 others injured in the Yemeni fighters’ missile attack on a UAE military vessel off the coast of Mukha on Saturday.

Local sources said the bodies of the Emirati nationals were flown to Eritrea’s port city of Assab.

In another development on Saturday, the Yemeni fighters attacked the al-Fariza military base in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern Jizan region.

On Friday, Yemeni army troops, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, managed to seize several strategic military bases and outposts in Jizan in retaliation for the almost daily Saudi bombardment of the impoverished nation.