UN says despite 2-month truce in Yemen, 19 civilians killed

June 3, 2022 GMT

GENEVA (AP) — At least 19 civilians, including three children, have been killed in Yemen over the past two months, despite a nationwide cease-fire, a U.N. official said Friday.

The truce was the first tangible ebb in fighting in the past six years of the conflict in the Arab world’s most impoverished nation, though each side has at times accused the other of violating the cease-fire. On Thursday, Yemen’s warring parties decided to renew the truce for another two months.

Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva on Friday that most of the deaths recorded since the truce first went into effect in early April were from land mines, “including improvised mines, and explosive remnants of war.”

However, she said three of the 19 killed died from sniper fire in the Taiz and Al-Dale provinces. Two people were seriously wounded by snipers.

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Also, the agency documented the wounding of four civilians, one of them a girl, by a weaponized drone. All the attacks took place in areas controlled by Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

Throssell also said that 32 civilians have been wounded during the two-months of truce.

The fighting in Yemen erupted in 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels descended from their northern enclave and took over the capital of Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee into exile in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to try to restore the government to power.

The conflict, which eventually descended into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed over 150,000 people, including over 14,500 civilians, and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, pushing millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine.

There have been concerns at the United Nations that the warring sides in Yemen could abuse the cease-fire to regroup and prepare for possible future battles.

“There are reports that parties to the conflict may be regrouping in case military operations resume,” said Throssell. “We call on them to adhere to the terms of the truce in good faith.”

In a statement Friday, the U.N. Security Council welcomed the extension of the truce in Yemen and “expressed hope that a strengthened truce could be translated into a durable cease-fire and an inclusive, comprehensive political settlement, under the auspices of the U.N.”

Council members expressed concern about “the grave humanitarian impact of the continued road closures around Taiz and called upon the Houthis to act with flexibility in negotiations and immediately open the main roads.”

They also reiterated their “deep concern” about the risk of famine in Yemen and urged donors to fund the U.N. humanitarian appeal, the statement said.