UN chief slams attacks on civilian facilities in Saudi Arabia, Yemen

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 27 (APP): United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has denounced attacks on civilian facilities in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about reports of ongoing airstrikes
in Hudaydah city and the targeting of Hudaydah’s ports, which provide a critical humanitarian lifeline for the Yemeni population,” the UN chief’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said a statement issued on Saturday in New York.

Over 23 million Yemenis face hunger, disease, and other life-threatening risks as the country’s basic services and economy are collapsing, according to the UN Office for Humanitarian Coordination (OCHA).

On Friday, Yemen’s Houthi forces launched aerial attacks on civilian and energy facilities in Saudi Arabia, including an oil facility in Jeddah that triggered a huge fire, which sent up a column of black smoke.

Subsequently, on Saturday, the Saudi-backed coalition retaliated with airstrikes on the Houthi-controlled seaports of Hudaydah and Salif as well as Yemen’s capital, Sana’a.

Guterres called for “a swift and transparent investigation into these incidents to ensure accountability.”

As the conflict enters its eighth year, the UN chief reiterated his calls upon all parties to “exercise maximum restraint, immediately deescalate, cease hostilities and abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution.”

He also urged the parties to “engage constructively, and without preconditions, with his Special Envoy to reduce violence and urgently reach a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Yemen.”

Meanwhile, news media reported that Yemen’s Houthi group said it would suspend for three days, missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia. The group upheld that the unilateral peace initiative could be a lasting commitment if the coalition stopped airstrikes and lifted port restrictions.