Saudi-led airstrikes kill 68 civilians in one day of Yemen’s ‘absurd’ war

United Nations condemn mounting casualties after intensive air campaigns and says conflict has no military solution

Sixty-eight Yemeni civilians were killed in two air raid by the Saudi-led coalition in one day, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen has said, as he condemned what he described as” an absurd and futile conflict “.

Jamie McGoldrick’s unusually direct criticism came in an update citing initial reports from the UN human rights office of the two ten-strikes earlier this week. The first reached a crowded market in Taez province, killing 54 civilians, including eight children, and wounding 32 others, McGoldrick said. The second was in the Red Sea province of Hodeidah and killed 14 people from the same family.

” I persist profoundly disturbed by mounting civilian casualties caused by escalated and indiscriminate assaults throughout Yemen ,” McGoldrick said. In addition to the casualties from Tuesday’s two air raids, another 41 civilians were killed and 43 wounded over the previous 10 days of fighting, he said.

The Arab bloc intensified its air campaign targeting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels after 19 December, when Saudi air defences intercepted a intercontinental ballistic missile the rebels had fired at the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The Saudis claim to be on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, which is held by the Houthi rebels.

” These incidents demonstrate the complete neglect for human life that all parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, continue to show in this absurd conflict that has only resulted in the ruin of the country and the incommensurate woe of its people ,” McGoldrick said on Thursday. Civilians” are being penalized as part of a fruitless military campaign by both sides”, he said.

” I remind all parties to the conflict, includes the Saudi-led coalition, of the obligations of international human rights law to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure and to always distinguish between civilian and military objects ,” he said.

The UN official said the conflict in Yemen had no military answer and could be resolved simply during negotiations. The same point has been adopted by the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who has said the resolution of the Yemen conflict is his No 1 priority.

Saudi Arabia, which watches the conflict as part of a wider battle to limit Iranian aggressivenes across the Countries of the middle east, claims the missile fired at Riyadh was provided by Iran. Earlier this month, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, staged a special press conference to back up the Saudi claim and assert that provision of the issue of missiles was in breach of UN security council resolutions.

The Saudis appear to be trying to capitalise on the political instability that has come about as a result of the death of Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed by the Houthis earlier this month as penalty for switching sides and seeking serenity with Saudi Arabia.

Last week the Saudis said they had opened the port of Hodeidah to commercial-grade and humanitarian ships, after an international outcry that a siege impose restrictions on 6 November amounted to starvation as a tactic of campaign. The UN said the first supplyings of fuel had entered the port on 24 December. Yemen imports 90% of its meat and all of its gasoline and medicine.

At a press conference on Wednesday the Saudis claimed five crafts had entered Hodeidah carrying gasoline the coming week and that coalition forces “ve been given” 10 permits to transfer aid to Yemen through land intersects.

The Arab alliance- basically the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates, backed by the US, the UK and others- intervened in support of Yemen’s internationally recognised government in March 2015 after the Houthis took over Sana’a. But despite the coalition’s vastly superior firepower, the rebels still control the capital and much of the north.

The UN has no up-to-date estimate of the death toll in Yemen, but said in August 2016 that is in accordance with medical centres at least 10,000 people had been killed.

It says Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with about 8 million people on the verge of famine, a cholera outbreak that has infected 1 million people, and economic breakdown in what was already one of the Arab world’s poorest countries.

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