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Yemen war ‘escalating’, says UN human rights chief

Deaths in Yemen Conflict - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]
Deaths in Yemen Conflict - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

There is an increasing rate of civilian casualties in Yemen with nearly 6,000 civilians killed in the three-year conflict, United Nations Human Rights office of the High Commissioner reported yesterday.

“The upsurge in fighting in the south-western Governorate of Taiz is of particular concern. Civilians are under fire on all sides, as Houthi and affiliated forces carry out sniper attacks and indiscriminate shelling, and the Saudi-led Coalition continues to conduct airstrikes,” Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein said.

Twenty-seven people were killed and 76 injured in Yemen between 1-8 February, more than double the confirmed number of civilian casualties from the previous week, Al-Hussein warned.

“The actual figures are likely to be higher. Most of the casualties were attributed almost equally to the warring parties – 48 to the coalition, and 51 to the Houthi forces. Two were killed by drones, one by Al-Qaeda, and in one case the perpetrator is unknown.”

Saudi quagmire in Yemen - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Saudi quagmire in Yemen – Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Since January 2015, 547 people have been reportedly killed by drone strikes and 62 injured according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).

“The parties to this conflict are obliged to take constant care to spare the civilian population, respecting the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. I remind them that any intentional, direct attack against civilians or civilian objects is considered a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and that they should take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event, minimise, the impact of violence on civilians,” Al-Hussein continued.

Yemen’s National Army (YNA) led by internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi confirmed yesterday on Telegram that “significant progress” was made in Taiz after “heavy fighting” with the Houthis. The majority of the fighting took place near Al-Shaqab village, a district in Taiz.

In Al-Baydah governorate, southern Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition targeted the Houthi armed group in the Al-Mansoura area, west of the Nita province.

Last week, the YNA retook the Hays district in southern Hudaydah governorate, a strategic port city. Yesterday, the YNA reported on Telegram that its forces had pushed forward towards northern Hays, alongside forces of the General People’s Congress loyal to the late president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Read: Oman to host Yemen peace talks, Houthis agree to join

In the north of Lahj governorate, the YNA launched a surprised offensive against the Houthis stationed in the Al-Qubaytah directorate. The Saudi-led coalition continues to support the ground forces with air strikes.

The Yemen civil war erupted in September 2014 when the Houthis overtook Sana’a, forcing internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to relocate his government to the southern city of Aden. In March 2015, Hadi requested a Saudi-led coalition intervene militarily in order to halt Houthi advances.

The three-year stalemate is now over, with the YNA causing military tensions across several fronts in the west, north and southern Yemen.

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