Yemen’s Houthi group today welcomed a call by the United Nations for an independent investigation into Saudi-led coalition air strikes that killed dozens of people a day earlier, including children travelling on a bus.
“We welcome the call of the secretary general [of the United Nations] and we are ready to cooperate,” the head of the Houthis’ supreme revolutionary committee, Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, said in a tweet. A Yemeni health official and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said yesterday that an air strike had hit the bus carrying children as it drove through a market in northern Saada province.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the air strike and called for an “independent and prompt investigation”, his spokesman said.
Henrietta Fore, executive director of the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, said in a statement today that the “horrific” bus attack “marks a low point in [Yemen’s] brutal war”.
“The question now is whether it will also be a turning point – the moment that must finally push the warring parties, UN Security Council and international community to do what’s right for children and bring an end to this conflict,” she added.
The Western-backed alliance fighting the Iranian-aligned Houthis said the air strikes had targeted missile launchers used to attack the southern Saudi city of Jizan on Wednesday, killing a Yemeni civilian there.
It accused the Houthis of using children as human shields and said the strikes were carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in a three-year-old war, lies on one of the world’s most important trade routes for oil tankers, the Bab al-Mandeb strait.
Riyadh is leading a coalition of Arab states which began launching air strikes in Yemen in March 2015 to restore to power internationally backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was driven from the capital in 2014 by Houthi fighters and militias allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.