Yemen: U.N. Fails to Protect Civilians Against Indiscriminate Airstrikes by Saudi-Led Coalition

55 civilians were killed in airstrikes targeting a fish market and a hospital in Hodeidah, Yemen, a principal hospital in combatting another deadly cholera epidemic in Yemen.

35,000 Yemeni households displaced in Al-Hudaydah

55 civilians were killed in airstrikes targeting a fish market and a hospital in Hodeidah, Yemen, a principal hospital in combatting another deadly cholera epidemic in Yemen.

Liz Grande, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, expressed shock at the raids on the city of Hodeidah on Thursday, where Saudi-led airstrikes targeted a fish market and Al Thawra Hospital. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that 55 people were killed and 170 were injured.

“Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis depend on this hospital to survive,” Grande said in a statement. “It has one of the best cholera treatment centers in the city, and hospitals are protected by international humanitarian law. This loss of life can never be justified.” Of this tragedy, UNICEF Resident Representative in Yemen, Michelle Relanio tweeted:

Witnesses who fought to extinguish fires on some of the victims’ remains relayed their horror to correspondents at Inside Arabia. Women and children were among the 18 bodies found in front of Al Thawra hospital.

The city of Hodeidah is home to about 400,000 people and is 226 kilometers away from Yemen’s capital Sana’a. It has the second largest Yemeni port after the port of Aden and is the only port still held by Yemeni Houthi rebels. It is currently the gateway for the majority of aid, trade, and food coming to Yemen. The coalition accused Houthis of using the port for smuggling arms and threatening the safety of maritime navigation.

Arab Coalition spokesperson Turki al-Maliki denied that the Coalition had carried out any operations inside Hodeidah on Thursday. Instead, he accused the Houthis of carrying out the “killing of civilians.” The coalition has not acknowledged any crimes against civilians since the beginning of the war.

Human rights activists have demanded an international commission investigate this crime as well as all others committed against civilians since the beginning of the war. While both warring parties have exchanged accusations of the other killing innocent civilians, Raad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, confirmed earlier that the Arab coalition is responsible for more airstrikes, causing the death of 5,144 civilians. He has repeatedly called for an international investigation into the human rights abuses in Yemen.

The Burning of Hodeidah Is Increasing the Risk of Another Cholera Epidemic

35,000 Yemeni households displaced in Al-Hudaydah

Grande also warned that efforts to temper the world’s “worst cholera epidemic” are at risk as a result of the continued bombing of the city, which is destroying health and sanitation infrastructure. New cases of cholera surfaced every day this week.

Peter Salama, Deputy Director General of the World Health Organization, called on all parties involved in the conflict to issue an emergency response, to act in compliance with international humanitarian law, and to respect the UN’s demand for a three-day ceasefire to allow civilians to be vaccinated against cholera.

On August 6 during a briefing at the UN Security Council, the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffith, invited the warring parties in Yemen to Geneva on September 6 to discuss a framework for peace negotiations to put an end to this atrocious war. In March 2017, the United Nations reported that more than 7 million Yemenis are threatened by famine. The conflict in Yemen has led to an alarming deterioration in food security of more than 80 percent of the population. Hodeidah is the most affected among the Yemeni provinces.

Yemen has already experienced two cholera epidemics: the first began in September 2016 and lasted until February 2017; however, a second epidemic hit in April 2017 and continued until November of the same year.

Recently, UNICEF reported that there have been 2,311 deaths from cholera in Yemen. The organization also confirmed that the number of suspected cases of the epidemic has reached more than 1,118,000 in the past 13 months.

“Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. 75% of its population needs humanitarian assistance and protection, including 8.4 million people who do not know how to get their next meal,” according to a UN statement.

The U.N. has recorded that since the beginning of the coalition’s military intervention in Yemen in 2015, more than 28,000 people have been killed and wounded. 9,500 of them were innocent civilians.