Russia pushes UN resolution calling for pause in Yemen air strikes

AFP , Saturday 4 Apr 2015

Russia on Saturday presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for a humanitarian pause in the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, diplomats said.

Russia called the emergency meeting of the 15-member council amid growing alarm over the rising civilian death toll from the fighting in Yemen.

Violence has sharply escalated in Yemen following a Saudi-led air campaign launched on March 26 to stop an advance by Shiite Houthi rebels that forced President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The one-page-text distributed to the council would call on the Saudi-led coalition to halt air strikes to allow the evacuation of foreigners, a Security Council diplomat told AFP.

The text did not specify the duration of the pause.

The measure made no reference to previous calls by the Security Council for the Houthis to pull back and return to political talks, the diplomat said.

Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov told reporters as he headed into the meeting that the pause would ensure that "when we evacuate people, to make sure it's secure and safe."

UN aid chief Valerie Amos said Thursday she was "extremely concerned" about the fate of civilians trapped in fierce fighting after aid agencies reported that 519 people had been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in two weeks.

The UN children's agency this week said at least 62 children had been killed and 30 injured over the past week in Yemen, and that more of them were being recruited as child soldiers.

British Deputy Ambassador Peter Wilson said his country continues to "support the Saud-led action in Yemen in response to a legitimate request from President Hadi."

While Britain deplores civilian casualties, "the only way out of this crisis is to return to political talks on an equal basis," said Wilson.

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