Civilians Killed in the Yemen Fighting

Damage caused by fighting in Abyan Governorate, southern Yemen. Photo: OCHA/Eman (file)
Damage caused by fighting in Abyan Governorate, southern Yemen. Photo: OCHA/Eman (file)

United Nations (UN) officials expressed their deep concern on Tuesday about the fast deteriorating situation in Yemen, where dozens of civilians have been killed in fighting in recent days.

“The situation in Yemen is extremely alarming, with dozens of civilians killed over the past four days,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, echoing a statement issued by UN Secretary-General’s Spokesperson.

“The country seems to be on the verge of total collapse,” the High Commissioner said, calling on all sides to protect civilians from harm, and to resolve their differences through dialogue rather than through the use of military force.

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At least 93 civilians were reported to have been killed since 27 March and a further 364 injured in Sana’a, Sa’da, Dhale, Hudayda and Lahj, among whom were “dozens” killed in an airstrike on the Al-Mazraq camp for internally displaced persons that was established by the UN in 2009. At least another 35 were injured in the raid, including 11 children.

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“The killing of so many innocent civilians is simply unacceptable,” said Zeid. “The principles of proportionality, distinction, and precaution fully apply in this context. International human rights law and humanitarian law should be fully respected.”

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The High Commissioner, who said he was “shocked” by the attack on the camp, was joined by Johannes Van Der Klaauw, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, who said he “deplored” the airstrike in the strongest terms.

The UN Secretary-General noted that children were among those killed in the attack on Al-Mazraq camp and in several attacks on hospitals in Dhale and he reminded all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians.

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Rakesh Raman