GENEVA – UN officials express concern over increasing civilian casualties as Houthi rebels and government forces fight for control of Marib province in northern Yemen.
Marib Governorate used to be a relative haven for tranquility during Yemen’s six – year conflict. As such, it attracted hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by the war. That calm was shattered when Houthi rebels, also known as Ansar Allah, tried to seize control of government forces in February.
Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office, says the ongoing clashes have a devastating impact on civilians and civilian buildings. For the past two weeks alone, she has said dozens of people have been killed. Ambulances, a police and fuel station, a mosque and other civilian facilities were attacked by missiles and drones.
“What we have seen in these recent attacks is not what I would consider an escalation, but of course all the civilian deaths it has caused are absolutely tragic,” Throssell said. ‘What it is, of course, is that Ansar Allah continues to launch their missile attacks and drones in areas where the government is. And of course there is reaction from government forces. ”
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In addition, Throssell says the Houthis have continued cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia, supporting the Yemeni government in this long civil war.
She says most of the attacks were against Saudi military targets. However, she notes that civilian infrastructure, including airports and industrial facilities, has been hit.
She calls on all parties to the conflict to fulfill their obligations under international law. It contains a ban on civilian infrastructure and civilian infrastructure.
She says warring parties are also obliged to protect civilians under their control from the effects of attacks and to keep them from military objects in populated areas.
“All parties to the conflict must ensure that any attacks that lead to the death of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure are meaningfully investigated,” Throssell said. ‘Victims of arbitrary killings, including those committing war crimes, have the right to justice violators of such acts, regardless of their affiliation, must be properly held accountable. ”
Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 in support of the government. Since then, the United Nations says more than 8,100 civilians have been killed and more than 13,000 injured.
The UN Human Rights Office calls on the warring parties to return to the negotiating table and end the suffering by agreeing to a nationwide ceasefire.