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Published on 24 Sep 2016 | Category : Social

Alarming Rise in Civilian Toll in Yemen: UN

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TEHRAN: United Nations human rights officials expressed alarm on Friday at a sharp rise in civilian casualties in Yemen since peace talks collapsed last month, the great majority of them inflicted in airstrikes by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.


At least 329 civilians have been killed, and at least 426 have been injured since the beginning of August. Fighting resumed after Aug. 6, when talks collapsed between the Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s fugitive former president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and forces aligned with Houthis.


The toll was reported as Saudi Arabia and Arab allies waged a diplomatic campaign at the United Nations Human Rights Council to stave off an international investigation into the conduct of hostilities and possible war crimes.


Heavy Saudi pressure on Western governments and businesses succeeded in stalling a similar initiative in the Council last year; diplomats say the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, has again lobbied against an independent international inquiry. They add that growing awareness of the bloodshed has made it harder for the United States and Britain, Saudi Arabia’s major suppliers of arms and munitions, to look away.


An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on a market and residential area of the city of Hodeidah on Wednesday has been the most vivid example of the carnage. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, condemned the attack, which killed at least 26 civilians, according to human rights monitors.


“The death toll could be much higher,” Cécile Pouilly, a spokeswoman for the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, told reporters in Geneva on Friday, the New York Times reported.


Ten days earlier, two coalition airstrikes had reportedly killed 21 civilians, including a group of men drilling for water.


The charity Doctors Without Borders announced last month that it was pulling staff members out of six hospitals in Yemen after coalition planes bombed a facility, killing 19 people and injuring 24, the fourth time that hospitals supported by the group had come under attack by the coalition since the start of the war in March 2015.


By Thursday, the number of civilians killed this month had reached 149, she added, of which 126 were attributed to the coalition and nine to pro-Houthi groups, with others mostly killed by groups that were either linked to Daesh (ISIL) or had not been identified.

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