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Saudi coalition air strike in Yemen showed 'disregard' for civilian life, says UN

At least 12 civilians were killed during the Saudi coalition air strike including children as young as two years old
People gather at the site of a Saudi-led air strike on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Saada, Yemen, on 4 August 2017 (Reuters)
By Reuters

A top United Nations official in Yemen said reported air strikes in which at least 12 civilians were killed, including children, were an example of the "disregard" for civilians' safety shown by all the combatants in Yemen's civil war.

The civilians were killed and 10 others wounded in Saada province after attacks on a house and a private vehicle, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said, citing reports from fellow aid groups.

Reuters reported on Friday that three women and six children from the same family were killed in an air strike on their home in the area by the Saudi-led coalition opposing Houthi rebels, citing a local health official.

The youngest child who was killed by the Saudi-led coalition air strike was two years old, according to social media posts. The majority of the victims were under the age of 18. 

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition did not respond to a request for a comment.

Yemen has been torn apart by a civil war in which the exiled government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, is trying to push back gains made by the Iran-aligned Houthi group which controls most of the north, including the capital Sanaa.

The new incidents were an example of the "brutality" of the conflict, McGoldrick said in the statement, in which he expressed deep concern.

"All parties to the conflict continue to show a disregard for the protection of civilians and the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants in the conduct of hostilities."

Saudi pledged millions to combat Cholera

Saudi Arabia has pledged $33.7mn to help the World Health Organisation eradicate cholera in war-wracked Yemen, where the disease has killed nearly 2,000 people, the WHO said on Sunday.

Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the organisation, confirmed that Saudi Arabia, which leads the Arab coalition bombing Houthi in Yemen, had signed an agreement committing the funds to help the WHO battle the spread of cholera.

The kingdom, in a statement on Thursday, said the money committed to WHO was part of an overall effort to combat the cholera outbreak in Yemen.

Riyadh said it also pledged $33mn to the UN's children agency, Unicef, for a project to improve water and sanitation facilities which are "drivers of the epidemic".
The Saudi aid was initially announced in June by Crown Prime Mohammed bin Salman.

Last week the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, also pledged $10mn to help the WHO stem the spread of cholera in Yemen.

Saada, a stronghold of the Houthi group, has been repeatedly hit by air strikes since the coalition joined the civil war in March 2015. They see the war as an attempt by Iran to expand its influence in Yemen.

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