UN chief ‘deeply concerned’ about intensification of airstrikes and ground fighting in Yemen

The city of Sa’ada in Yemen has been heavily hit by airstrikes. Photo: OCHA/Philippe Kropf

8 January 2016 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he is “deeply concerned” about the intensification of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes and ground fighting and shelling in Yemen, despite repeated calls for a renewed cessation of hostilities.

The United Nations recently reported that civilians are suffering a “terrible toll” in the fighting, with casualties now topping 8,100, with nearly 2,800 of them killed.

“The Secretary-General is particularly concerned about reports of intense airstrikes in residential areas and on civilian buildings in Sana’a, including the Chamber of Commerce, a wedding hall and a centre for the blind,” a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s Spokesperson indicated.

“He also has received troubling reports of the use of cluster munitions in attacks on Sana’a on 6 January in several locations. The use of cluster munitions in populated areas may amount to a war crime due to their indiscriminate nature,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General is reminding all parties of the utmost necessity to respect their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, which prohibits attacks directed against civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The UN chief is also calling on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to “engage in good faith” with his Special Envoy for Yemen in order to convene a new round of peace talks as soon as possible.

Mr. Ban’s concern for civilians in the war-torn nation follows his condemnation yesterday of the Yemeni Government’s decision to expel the UN human rights representative, who was accused of being “impartial” in assessing the situation in the country. This was echoed today by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who urged the Government to reverse its decision.

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Yemen: Ban condemns expulsion of UN rights official; ‘extremely concerned’ for staff

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