Dozens of people, many of them children, were killed or injured on Thursday in Sa’ada province, Yemen, when a bus was hit by an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported on Twitter that a hospital it supports in Yemen has received “the bodies of 29 children, all under the age of 15” and “48 wounded, including 30 children “.
A spokesman for the humanitarian organization warned, however, that this was not a definitive report, as some of the victims had been transported to other hospitals in the region.
Earlier in the day, a health department official in Saada, Abdul-Ghani Nayeb, gave a report of 43 dead and 61 wounded, while Al-Massirah television of the Houthi rebels reported 38 dead and 51 wounded.
A “legitimate” attack
In a statement issued hours after the strike, the coalition, often accused of being responsible for deadly burr, defended the legitimacy of its attack, which it presents as a response. She also accused the Houthis of using children as human shields.
“This operation was conducted in compliance with international humanitarian law,” said the coalition, which did not specify the nature of the attack nor said it targeted a bus carrying children.
The attack that occurred today in Sa’ada Province is a legitimate military operation against elements […] who fired a missile against the (Saudi) city of Jizane last night, killing one man and wounded among civilians.
Communiqué of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia
In a statement issued Wednesday by the official Saudi news agency, the coalition said a missile fired by the Houthis had been intercepted, but the debris had one death – a Yemeni, according to her – and 11 wounded.
The attack on a busy market demonstrates “the coalition’s flagrant disregard for the lives of civilians,” said a spokesman for the Houthis.
The ICRC, for its part, recalled in a tweet that “according to international humanitarian law, children must be protected during conflicts”.
Once again, many children were reportedly killed or injured when a school bus was attacked in northern Yemen. All these children would be under 15 years old. Does the world really need to see more innocent children killed to stop the cruel war in Yemen?
Geert Cappelaere, Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) for the Middle East
A conflict that goes on forever
More than 10,000 people have been killed and more than 55,000 injured in Yemen since the Sunni coalition led by Riyadh declared war on the Houthi rebels in March 2015. The Houthis then inflicted severe defeats on the Yemeni government recognized by the international community and supported by Saudi Arabia.
The war in Yemen is part of a wider regional conflict between Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. Riyadh accuses Tehran of supporting the Houthi rebels, who come from the Zaidi minority, a branch of Shi’ism, in this predominantly Sunni country.
According to the United Nations, the fighting in Yemen has caused “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world”. She estimates that more than 22.2 million people, or three-quarters of the population, need humanitarian assistance and protection.
The UN estimates that 17.8 million Yemenis are food insecure – 8.4 million of whom are severely food insecure and at risk of starvation – that 16 million have no access to food. drinking water and adequate health care.
Last week, the World Health Organization warned that Yemen could be affected by a new “major wave” of cholera cases and called for a three-day truce to allow for vaccination.
One million suspected cases of cholera – including 2200 deaths – have already been reported in the country.