Yemen: About 70 killed in Saudi-led air raids, UN urges probe

A detention centre holding migrants in Yemen’s Saada city was bombed by the Saudi-led coalition on Friday, killing at least 70 people, including women and children, according to International aid groups.

Rescuers continue to search for survivors.

The UN chief has condemned the air raids on Saada city and called for an investigation into the attacks.

The exact death toll is unclear. Yemen’s Houthi rebels and an aid group on Saturday claimed that the death toll had climbed to at least 82.

The same day, another Saudi air raid hit a telecommunication centre in the port city of Hodeidah, causing an outage of Yemen’s connection to the internet.

Houthi Health Minister Taha al-Motawakel has appealed to the international community for medical aid. He accused the Saudi coalition of deliberately targeting civilians, reports AlJazeera.

Urging for de-escalation, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani said that so far in January, there were 839 airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, compared with 1,074 for the whole of December.

There were some 16 drone strikes, 12 ballistic missiles and three other projectiles fired by Ansar Allah forces towards Saudi territory in December. To date in January, reports indicate there have been 10 drone strikes towards Saudi Arabia.

Among recent attacks, between 9 to 11 January, three telecommunications towers were destroyed in Sa’ada Governorate. On 11 January, Coalition airstrikes destroyed the main water reservoir in Sahar district, also in Sa’ada Governorate, disrupting water supplies for more than 130,000 people.

The recent escalation comes after Houthis launched a drone and missile attack that struck inside the United Arab Emirates capital earlier this week, killing three foreign workers.

UAE is a member of the Saudi-led coalition, fighting the Houthis since 2015.

Saudi air raids also hit near the capital, Sanaa, held by the Houthis since late 2014. Last week, at least 14 people were killed in Sanaa.

Eight aid agencies operating in Yemen said in a joint statement that they were “horrified” the killing in Saada, which included women and children.

Since the beginning of the war in 2015, some 130,000 people, including more than 13,000 civilians, have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.