The United Nations has expressed concern about aerial assaults conducted by Saudi Arabia on Yemen after a deadly airstrike on a hospital in the impoverished country’s northwestern province of Hajjah.
UN spokeswoman, Alessandra Vellucci, told a news briefing in the Swiss city of Geneva on Tuesday that according to an estimate by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the conflict in Yemen has damaged or demolished more than 70 health centers, including three facilities supported by the medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym as the MSF.
Ban “is deeply disturbed by the intensification of air strikes and continuing ground fighting and shelling, especially in populated areas. The shrinking humanitarian space and limited access to essential services for Yemenis, a situation exacerbated by the return to full-scale hostilities, is a matter of even greater concern,” Vellucci said.
On Monday, at least 11 people were killed and 19 others injured after a Saudi strike hit an MSF hospital in Hajjah province’s Abs district. The MSF said one of its staff members was among those killed in the attack.
Commenting on Monday’s incident, spokesman of the World Health Organization, Tarik Jasarevic, said that the Saudi air raid had left the hospital “partially destroyed” with all remaining patients and staff evacuated.
“According to MSF, there were 23 patients in surgery, 25 in maternity ward, as well as 13 new born and 12 patients in pediatrics at the hospital at the time of the bombing,” Jasarevic said.
A similar Saudi raid struck a school in Yemen’s Sa’ada province on Saturday, killing 10 children.
Back in June, the UN blacklisted Saudi Arabia after concluding in a report that Riyadh was responsible for 60 percent of the 785 deaths of children in Yemen last year.
A few days later, however, the world body removed Riyadh from the blacklist, citing threats by the regime and its allies to cut off funding to many UN programs. The move triggered an outcry from human rights groups.
Yemen has seen almost daily military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March 2015, with internal sources putting the toll from the bloody aggression at about 10,000. The offensive was launched to crush the Houthis and their allies and restore power to the resigned Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The Houthi Ansarullah fighters took state matters in their own hands after the resignation and escape of Hadi, which threw Yemen into a state of uncertainty and threatened a total security breakdown in the country, where an al-Qaeda affiliate is present.