UN warns on civilian suffering as Yemen conflict resumes

6 Jan 16

Civilians in Yemen continue to suffer a “terrible toll” as fighting continues into the new year following a short-lived ceasefire in late December, the United Nations has said.


Yemeni military soldiers

Yemeni military soldiers


Fighting between groups loyal to internationally recognised president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, ousted last year, and Houthi rebels who oppose him, intensified in March this year as a Saudi Arabia-led coalition began launching airstrikes against the rebels.

UN-sponsored peace talks and an agreed ceasefire got underway in mid-December 2015, but were suspended less than a week later following numerous reports the ceasefire had been breached.

Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, explained yesterday that violence has continued into 2016, with around 11 coalition airstrikes reported to have taken place on 3 and 4 January and incidents of shelling affiliated with the Houthis.

Colville also said they had received “alarming information” on the alleged use of cluster bombs by coalition forces.

While at least 62 civilians were reported to have been killed by airstrikes attributed to the Saudi-led coalition in December, more than double that of the previous month, only 11 deaths were linked to Houthi shelling, a significant decrease compared to the 32 reportedly killed by them in November.

He repeated concerns about the limits to humanitarian access, especially in Taiz where violence has been largely constant for eight months, and deteriorating public services.

The country’s prison, education and health systems are at the brink of collapse. Colville said that one of the largest hospitals still operating in Taiz is being forced to turn patients away.

In August, the UN warned that the $1.6bn humanitarian appeal for Yemen was only 18% funded. The UK donated £20m in emergency aid in September, but the World Health Organisation recently appealed for more funds as the situation deteriorated further.

The UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmend, will attempt to resume peace talks on 14 January following efforts to reach a sustained ceasefire. 

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