19 dead in Yemen during truce, mainly due to mines: UN

AFP , Friday 3 Jun 2022

Nineteen civilians have been killed in Yemen during a recently renewed two-month truce, mostly by landmines or improvised explosive devices or unexploded ordnance, the UN said on Friday.

Yemeni government soldiers
Soldiers loyal to the Aden-based Yemeni government stand guard before a poster showing the chairman of the presidential council Rashad al-Alimi, while on guard duty during a demonstration demanding the end of a years-long siege imposed by the Huthi rebels on the third city of Taez on May 25, 2022. AFP


The toll recorded between April 2 and June 1 "underscores the threat these devices pose to civilians, often over long periods of time, causing death or serious injury", said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Children are especially at risk," UNHCR spokesperson Liz Throssell said in a statement, adding that "three children were reported to have been killed and another 12 injured in this manner".

The two-month ceasefire declared at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan had largely been held, although the internationally recognised government and Iran-backed Huthi rebels traded blame over violations.

The two sides have been locked in conflict since 2014 when the Houthis descended from their northern stronghold to seize the capital Sanaa.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened on the side of the government the following year, giving rise to what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

During the truce, which was welcomed by the UNHCR, three civilians, including a woman, were shot dead by snipers in four separate incidents near the front line in government-controlled areas, the agency said.

It said two civilians, including a boy, were seriously wounded in government-held areas close to the front lines in Ad-Dali and Taez provinces.

Its field office in Yemen also recorded two other cases of drone fire that wounded four civilians, including a girl, also in areas controlled by government forces and not far from the front line.

"We urge the parties to make serious efforts to ensure that roads into the city of Taez are reopened," Throssell said.

The UNHCR spokesperson described as "dire" the humanitarian situation in Taez, the country's third-largest city, which has been under siege by the Huthis since 2015.

She warned of reports that "parties to the conflict may be regrouping in case military operations resume" and called on them "to adhere to the terms of the truce in good faith".

The truce was renewed on Thursday the day it had been set to expire.

US President Joe Biden hailed the ceasefire extension, adding: "It's important that we work from here to make it permanent."

The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions on the brink of famine.

More than four million people have been displaced, and 19 million stand to go hungry this year, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres, said on Wednesday.

That includes "more than 160,000 who will face famine-like conditions", he said.

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