UN warns January will break records in terms of civilian casualties in Yemen conflict
Two senior United Nations officials sound the alarm about the escalating war. The death toll from the Saudi air raid on Saada prison hits 91. More and more civilian sites (schools, hospitals, power plants) are being targeted. Houthi rebels driven out of a district in Marib governorate
Sanaa (AsiaNews) – The recent escalation of violence in Yemen has reached “alarming” levels. It is “almost certain” that January 2022 will have the highest number of civilian casualties since the start of the conflict.
In a joint statement, the UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grunberg and the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Yemen David Gressly reiterate the condemnation by UN Secretary General António Guterres of then escalation of violence, following an air strike by the Saudi-led Arab coalition.
The updated toll of the attack against the Saada prison is 91 dead and 226 wounded, the worst incident involving civilians in the past three years.
In recent weeks, air and missile attacks have hit hospitals, telecommunications infrastructure, airports, a water plant and a school.
At the same time, Houthi rebels have renewed their attacks, with rockets and drones, against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, killing civilians and damaging infrastructure.
According to the UN special envoy, the escalation is exacerbating an already serious humanitarian crisis and complicating relief operations.
In December, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that they were running of funds to provide food assistance to 13 million needy people.
Grundberg and Gressly insist on the importance of accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and on the need to jumpstart talks between the parties to reach a truce.
In the interest of the Yemeni people and of peace, “We urge all parties to engage with these efforts immediately and without preconditions”, Grundberg and Gressly said.
However, despite the appeals, fighting continues and Houthis seem to be losing ground, especially in Marib, a strategic area with huge mineral resources.
The Giants Brigade have driven the Shia rebels out of Harib, a district south of Marib and the last government stronghold in the north, following a missile attack against Abu Dhabi.
The Brigade, a militia trained and backed by the UAE, said in a statement that, “hundreds were killed and wounded on both sides” in battles that lasted for more than two weeks, following the sudden escalation.
The Brigade also claims to have seized the neighbouring Shabwa governorate. There was no official comment from the Houthis.