UN to convene Yemen talks in Geneva next month

Posted August 06, 2018

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Hodeidah, Yemen, killed at least 20 people and wounded at least 60 on Thursday, according to a doctor at the city's al-Thawra hospital.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a military campaign to restore the internationally recognised government to power and push back the Huthi rebels, who still hold the capital Sanaa.

On June 13, the Yemeni government forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, launched an offensive to seize the port of Hodeidah from the Shia Houthi rebels.

"This is a tragic reminder that in Yemen the global humanitarian law - in place to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in times of war - continues to be broken on a daily basis".

While the gap between the Houthis and the coalition has been narrowed considerably, he said, "I am concerned that Hodeida could be a flashpoint".

Missiles hit the crowded fish market, which is a few hundred meters from the city's main hospital.

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The Yemeni government and rebel opposition Houthis have both declared their willingness to attend UN-organised peace talks in Geneva next month.

"This crime is not the first one committed by the Houthi militias against civilians in Hodeidah or elsewhere by indiscriminate bombing of residential neighbourhoods", he said.

Last month they said they were pausing the assault to give United Nations mediation efforts a chance.

"These airstrikes are putting innocent civilians at extreme risk", Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement.

"Hospitals are protected under global humanitarian law".

Saudi Arabia suspended oil exports through the channel following last week's Houthi attacks on crude tankers.

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The statement also emphasized that the "barbaric crimes" against Yemeni women in Hudaydah were not possible without the United States government's approval.

Yemen's civil war began in 2014.

World Health Organization officials on Friday called on the sides to halt fighting for at least three days for a vaccination effort that aims to prevent another deadly wave of cholera.

"The impact of the strikes is appalling".

Other Hodeidah residents, who asked to not to be named, said they heard mortars being fired from a rebel base near the hospital just before the news broke of the attack.

Appointed past year to lead UN peace efforts in Yemen, Griffiths said there had been progress in talks on a possible deal with the Huthis to turn over control of the port to the United Nations "but the gap is not closed".

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