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Yemen on brink of famine as civil war rages

Published 14/09/2016

Smoke billows on September 14, 2016 following a reported airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. AFP/Getty Images
Smoke billows on September 14, 2016 following a reported airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. AFP/Getty Images

The UN Security Council is calling on all parties in Yemen's civil war to halt all military activity and abide by the terms of a cessation of hostilities agreed upon in April.

The council said in statement that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a durable peace agreement and urged all parties to resume talks, as the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned: "At least seven million people - a quarter of the population - are living under emergency levels of food insecurity." That is near famine level.

It's a crisis that has deepened since the civil war broke out, and there has been a 15pc increase in hunger during the past year.

The WFP further warns that another 7.1 million people are ready to fall into hunger if the situation does not improve. In all, 19 of the 22 governorates of Yemen are experiencing severe hunger.

Meanwhile Saudi-led airstrikes on a water well in northern Yemen have reportedly killed 30 people and wounded 17, a UN official said.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said in a statement that the casualties in the village of Beit Saadan included first responders and children.

The strikes took place on Saturday, on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Mr McGoldrick said he is "deeply disturbed by the unrelenting attacks on civilians and on civilian infrastructure", and urges rival parties to resume a ceasefire declared by the UN in April.

Yemen's official news agency SABA, which is controlled by Houthi rebels, has reported that 100 people were killed or wounded in the airstrikes.

Witnesses said an initial airstrike killed 13 people, but then a number of rescuers were killed in subsequent airstrikes.

The Saudi-led coalition made no statement regarding the airstrikes, but its spokesman, Brig Gen Ahmed al-Asiri, has said before that relief and rights groups are biased and give misleading reports.

Yemen's conflict pits the internationally recognised government, which is allied with a Saudi-led military coalition, against Shiite Houthi rebels and forces loyal to a former president.

The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis and their allies since March 2015.

Mr McGoldrick says the fighting has killed or wounded 10,000 people.

The Houthis, along with allied forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have also waged cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia.

The coalition said Saudi air defence forces shot down a ballistic missile fired from Yemen before dawn on Monday.

It says the coalition air force struck the area of the missile's launching pad. No damage or casualties were reported.

The coalition, which is supported by the United States, has accused Iran of arming the Houthis, something Tehran and the rebels deny. Saudi Arabia and Iran are regional rivals.

Irish Independent

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