UN chief concerned about escalation of fighting in Yemen

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-04 05:56:36|Editor: yan
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UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday expressed deep concern over the sharp escalation of armed clashes and airstrikes in Yemen over the past few days between a rebel alliance.

"This latest outbreak of violence could not come at a worse time for the Yemeni people, who are already caught up in the world's largest humanitarian crisis," said Guterres through his spokesman, referring to the clashes between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The two forces were previous allies against forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The new clashes, which broke out on Wednesday in the capital city of Sanaa and then spread to other parts of the country, have resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries, including civilians.

The secretary-general called on all parties to the conflict to cease all air and ground assaults, said Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman, in a statement.

The new conflict and the blockade imposed on Nov. 6 by the Saudi-led military coalition, which is fighting Houthi rebels, have caused significant shortages of critical supplies, especially food and fuel, and resulted in price hikes, curtailing access to food, safe water and healthcare, said the statement. "The secretary-general calls for the urgent resumption of all commercial imports, without which millions of children, women and men risk mass hunger, disease and death."

Although the Saudi-led coalition has partially lifted the blockade, UN humanitarian shipments still face impediments.

"Fighting is restricting the movement of people and life-saving services within Sanaa city. Ambulances and medical teams cannot access the injured, and people cannot go outside to buy food and other necessities. Aid workers are unable to travel and implement critical life-saving programs at a time when millions of Yemenis rely on assistance to survive," said the statement.

The secretary-general called on all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law. "It is paramount that civilians are protected, that the wounded are afforded safe access to medical care, and that all sides facilitate life-saving humanitarian access."

Guterres reiterated that there is no military solution to the Yemen conflict. He urged all parties to the conflict to engage meaningfully with the United Nations to revitalize inclusive negotiations on a political settlement.