05/09/2015, 00.00
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Saudis drop leaflets on Yemen civilians, bombs on Houthis

by Paul Dakiki
The leaflets warn civilians to leave Saada, where the Saudis want to continue their air operations. For Doctors without Borders, people do not have the means to flee. Striking at civilians is against international law. According to the UN, 1,400 have died so far with more than 6,000 wounded, mostly civilians. Instead of the ceasefire, 22 NGOs demand an end to the fighting.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Saudi-led coalition aircraft have dropped leaflets warning residents in Saada province to leave; meanwhile, their air strikes against Houthi rebels continue.

Saada is a Shia Houthi stronghold near the border with Saudi Arabia. In recent days, Houthis have shelled the city of Najran, across the border, killing 10 people, prompting the coalition to increase its air strikes after launching an offensive more than a month ago to stop Houthi advance in Yemen.

The United Nations has renewed its plea for a ceasefire and talks, after weeks of war have killed more than 1,400 people and wounded nearly 6,000, a majority of them civilians.

The organisation Doctors without Borders (MsF) criticised coalition actions, saying that dropping leaflets to warn civilians to leave Saada is useless.

In a statement issued last night, it is stated that "The bombing of civilian targets, with or without warning, is a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

MsF went on to say, "It is impossible for the entire population of Saada province to leave within hours. Many people have no transport or fuel due to the coalition's blockade. Many others have no access to information as the province's phone networks are barely operational in the province.”

Therefore, "If the coalition goes ahead with the threat of massively bombing the province, many people will die under the bombs."

Yesterday, in a meeting of Gulf States ministers in Paris, attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry and French representatives, the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced a humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen starting 12 May. It will take effect only if Houthis respect it.

A letter signed by 22 charities on Thursday called instead for a permanent end to the fighting.

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