At least 26 children and four women killed in airstrikes in Yemen
At least 26 children have been killed in the latest round of airstrikes in Yemen, the United Nations has said.
The organisation’s humanitarian office reported that at least four women also died in a strike by the Saudi-led coalition – two weeks after a coalition air attack on a school bus killed at least 29 children.
The UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, confirmed on Friday that a coalition airstrike on Thursday had killed 22 children and four women who were trying to escape the fighting in the Durayhimi district, in the Hudaydah governorate. He said a second attack in the same area that day had killed a further four children.
“I echo the recent statement by the secretary-general on Yemen, condemning such attacks on civilians and calling for an impartial, independent and prompt investigation into these most recent incidents,” said Lowcock, who heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“I am also deeply concerned by the proximity of attacks to humanitarian sites, including health facilities and water and sanitation infrastructure,” he said.
“The UN and partners are doing all they can to reach people with assistance. Access for humanitarian aid workers to reach people in need is critical to respond to the massive humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
“People need to be able to voluntarily flee the fighting to access humanitarian assistance too. The parties to the conflict must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and those with influence over them must ensure that everything possible is done to protect civilians.”
Two weeks earlier, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in the country killed dozens of people, including children travelling on a bus through a market, in Sa’ada province.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said at least 29 children aged younger than 15 had been killed, while a further 48 people of all ages were wounded, including 30 children.
The Reuters news agency reported that the western-backed alliance fighting the Iranian-aligned Houthi group in Yemen had said the airstrikes targeted missile launchers used to attack the southern Saudi city of Jizan the previous day, killing a Yemeni civilian there.
The Saudi-led coalition accused the Houthis of using children as human shields and said the strikes on 9 August were carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Henrietta Fore, the executive director of Unicef, said: “I had hoped that the outrage that followed the Saada attack in Yemen two weeks ago would be a turning point in the conflict. Yesterday’s reported attacks in Ad-Durayhimi, killing 26 children, indicate that it was not.
“I – once again – call for the warring parties, those who have influence over them, the UN security council and the international community to take action and end this conflict once and for all.
“The lives of thousands of vulnerable children across Yemen must be a priority for all.”
The UN ranks Yemen as the world’s “largest humanitarian operation. Three in four Yemenis are in need of assistance. In 2018, the UN and partners have reached more than 8 million people with direct assistance.”