UN calls for ‘immediate steps’ to end crisis in Yemen

By Meryem Goktas

ANKARA (AA) – The United Nations on Saturday called for "immediate steps" to end the ongoing crisis in Yemen.

In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that the conflicts in Al Hodeidah led to an "unconscionable toll".

"The Saudi-led Coalition and pro-Hadi forces, the Houthi forces – and those who supply arms or other support to the parties to the conflict – all have the power or the influence to stop the starvation and killing of civilians, to give some reprieve to the people of Yemen," she said.

"Violations by one party to the conflict do not give carte blanche to the others to fight back at all costs. Even wars are regulated by law – all parties to the conflict are bound to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law as applicable," she added.

According to informations by the UN Human Rights Office, at least 110 airstrikes were carried out in Al Hodeidah, Sa'ada and Sana between Oct. 31 and Nov. 6.

Coalition warplanes have been hovering at low altitude in Al Hodeida city since Thursday, as Houthi forces fire anti-aircraft missiles and mortars, and violent street clashes continued, it added.

At least 23 civilians were confirmed dead since Oct. 24, while around 445,000 civilians have been internally displaced in Al Hodeidah since early June, the UN Human Rights Office reported.

The UN official called for the immediate end of the military escalation which she said also leads to the increase of the "catastrophic food insecurity of some 14 million people across the country".

– Access to food, humanitarian relief

"The parties to the conflict must allow the free, regular and unimpeded passage of food and other humanitarian relief and must not take actions that would deprive civilians of their rights to food and health," Bachelet said.

"I call on all those with involvement or influence in the conflict to facilitate the access to humanitarian relief that the people of Yemen so desperately need," she added.

"I also remind States that the Geneva Conventions stipulate that all States, including those not involved in the armed conflict, have the obligation to take measures to ensure respect for the Conventions by parties to a conflict. Conditioning, limiting or refusing arms transfers is one measure," she said.

According to the UN Human Rights Office, between March 26, 2015 and Nov. 8 2018 a total of 17,640 civilian casualties were reported in Yemen, which includes 6,872 dead and 10,768 injured.

The majority of these casualties — a total of 10,852 — resulted from airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led Coalition, it added.