At least 136 civilians have been killed over 10 days of Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen this month, the United Nations said Tuesday, with the organization’s human rights chief decrying an “inferno” on the ground.
The UN human rights office said it had tallied 136 civilians killed and another 87 injured in the strikes on Sanaa, Saada, Al Hudaydah, Marib and Taez governorates between December 6 and 16.
“We are deeply concerned by the recent surge in civilian casualties in Yemen as a result of intensified air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition,” spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.
Yemen has been since March 2015 under a brutal aggression by Saudi-led coalition, in a bid to restore power to fugitive former president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been injured and martyred in Saudi-led strikes, with the vast majority of them are civilians.
According to official figures, more than 8,750 people have been killed in the aggression since the intervention in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country, where more than 2,000 people have also died of cholera this year.
Colville said the rights office had verified that four civilians were killed on December 9 when coalition strikes hit the official Yemen TV channel, Qanat Al Yemen.
At least seven civilians were also killed when air strikes hit the Al Hudaydah on December 10, with 45 more perishing in attacks on a prison in Sanaa three days later, he said.
The office said it had also just verified reports that 20 civilians, including 14 children, were killed in an attack on a farmhouse in Hudaydah governorate on December 15, while one woman and nine children were killed a day later as they returned from a wedding party in Marib governorate.
Colville called on all sides in the conflict to “take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event to minimize, the impact of violence on civilians.”
In an interview with AFP on Monday, UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein lamented “the total impunity that seems to exist (in) attacks from all sides”, although he said “the majority of casualties is still coming from the coalition air strikes.”
He said a combination of the violence and a blockade the coalition imposed on rebel-held ports last month, blocking desperately-needed aid, had created “a horrifying situation in Yemen… literally an inferno for many Yemenis.”
Last week, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, warned: “8.4 million Yemenis are a step away from famine.”
And on Tuesday, the UN children’s agency UNICEF said the blockade had sparked critical shortages and had hit access to safe water across the country.
“Water pumping stations serving over three million people via public networks in 14 cities are quickly running out of fuel,” it said in a statement.