Saudi raid civilian toll rises ahead of pause: UN

TEHRAN, May 13 (MNA) – UN says nearly 200 civilians have died in Yemen in the past week in the wake of Saudi airstrikes against the war-stricken country.

In the six days from 4 May to 10 May, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that at least 182 civilians have died, with 41 of them women and 51 children. In total, the Office verified the deaths of 828 civilians since 26 March, 182 of whom were children and 91 of whom were women. A further 1,511 people have been injured.

“A significant proportion of the casualties over this most recent six-day period – around half – were reportedly caused by airstrikes, especially in Sa'ada Governorate,” OHCHR Spokesperson Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

Civilian houses have been struck by airstrikes and ground fire, the Office reports, with at least 66 public buildings reported to have been partially or completely destroyed, as well as much civilian infrastructure.

“Given this alarming escalation, we welcome the announcement of a five-day humanitarian pause in Yemen, due to start today,” said Mr. Colville, adding “this should enable desperately needed aid operations to be carried out, and it is essential that it is honored by all sides to the conflict.”

The pause comes as Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, arrived in the capital, Sana'a, where he hopes to meet the various Yemeni parties, in particular Houthi representatives, and the hope is that the pause can serve as a basis for a more permanent cessation of hostilities.

“Hundreds of thousands of people across Yemen are struggling to meet their basic needs and are in desperate need of help,” said UNHCR Spokesperson Adrian Edwards, adding “in addition to the flights, UNHCR will be seeking to distribute more of the aid we already have in Yemen, and to carry out rapid needs assessments in previously hard-to-reach areas. Our staff and partners are preparing to give relief kits out to tens of thousands of displaced people.”

The World Food Programme (WFP) is also ready to distribute emergency food rations to more than 750,000 people in conflict-hit areas and is attempting to bring in fuel supplies to the country.

In a phone conversation with Iran’s Deputy FM Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, WFP Chief Executive Ertharin Cousin, announced the organization’s readiness to send the Islamic Republic’s humanitarian aids to the Yemeni people.

Iran has said it will dispatch three cargo planes carrying humanitarian aids via WFP within 24 hours to the war-torn Yemen.

Meanwhile Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova has said in a statement “I am particularly distressed by the news concerning air strikes on heavily populated areas such as the cities of Sana'a and Sa'ada. In addition to causing terrible human suffering, these attacks are destroying Yemen's unique cultural heritage, which is the repository of people's identity, history and memory and an exceptional testimony to the achievements of the Islamic Civilization.”

Saudi Arabia started its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 without a UN mandate in a bid to expand its dominance over the oil rich geostrategic neighbor by restoring power to the fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is a close ally of Riyadh.

The Al Saud regime has imposed a blockade on the delivery of relief supplies to the people of Yemen in defiance of calls by international aid groups. Last month, it prevented two Iranian civilian planes from delivering medical aid and food supplies to the impoverished Arab country.


News Code 107187

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