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UN chief condemns attacks on civilian facilities in Saudi Arabia, Yemen

News Agencies | Updated on: 27 March 2022, 15:55 IST
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday condemned attacks that targeted civilian facilities in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

"The secretary-general is deeply concerned about reports of ongoing airstrikes in Hodeidah city and the targeting of Hodeidah's ports, which provide a critical humanitarian lifeline for the Yemeni population," the UN chief's spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement.

Over 23 million Yemenis face hunger, disease, and other life-threatening risks as the country's basic services and economy are collapsing, the UN Office for Humanitarian Coordination (OCHA) had said.

Houthi forces in Yemen, also known as Ansar Allah, attacked Saudi Arabian civil and energy facilities on Friday, including an oil facility in Jeddah, sparking a massive fire that sent a column of black smoke into the sky.

The Saudi-backed coalition of nine countries assisting the Yemeni official government in fighting the Houthis, responded by airstriking three Houthi seaports -- Hodeidah, Salif and Sana'a -- killing eight civilians, including five children and two women, on Saturday.

"These airstrikes also resulted in damage to the UN staff residential compound in Sana'a," Dujarric added.

The UN chief is calling for "a swift and transparent investigation into these incidents to ensure accountability," the statement continued.

As the conflict enters its eighth year, the UN chief reiterated his calls on all parties to "exercise maximum restraint, immediately deescalate, cease hostilities and abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution."

He also urged the parties to "engage constructively, and without preconditions, with his special envoy to reduce violence and urgently reach a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Yemen."

Meanwhile, news media reported that Ansar Allah said it would suspend for three days missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia, saying the unilateral peace initiative could be a lasting commitment if the Saudi-led coalition stopped airstrikes and lifted port restrictions.

The Saudi-backed coalition has been fighting the Houthis for seven years in support of the internationally recognized Yemeni government. The coalition has carried out thousands of airstrikes, killing tens of thousands of people, according to the UN.


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First published: 27 March 2022, 15:55 IST