UN urges probe on Yemen wedding attack


NEW YORK: A senior aid official with the United Nations (UN) has called for a swift investigation into a recent Saudi airstrike on the location of a wedding ceremony in Yemen’s southwestern Dhamar region.


Stephen O’Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, demanded an impartial probe into the deadly aerial raid in a strongly-worded statement on Thursday.

“I call for a swift, transparent and impartial investigation into this incident,” the statement read, adding, “With modern weapons technology, there is little excuse for error.”

The UN official said he was “deeply disturbed” by the news that dozens of civilians, among them many women and children, had been killed in the Wednesday evening bombing.

Saudi fighter jets targeted the location of the wedding ceremony on Wednesday in Dhamar, situated about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a, killing at least 51 civilians there.

It was the second air raid to target wedding parties in Yemen recently.

‘More deaths caused than in any other country’

In late September, at least 135 civilians lost their lives and many more sustained injuries after Saudi warplanes hit the location of a wedding celebration in the port city of Mokha, located in Yemen’s southwestern province of Ta’izz.

Elsewhere in his remarks, O’Brien said 4,500 civilians had been killed or injured since Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against Yemen in March. “That is more than in any country or crisis in the world during the same period.”

The UN official also stressed that all sides involved in the conflict have a responsibility under international law to avoid damage to residential areas and civilian structures.

“Real accountability for parties to conflict, whether they are states or non-state groups, is urgently needed, to ensure that the commitment under international law to protect civilians is meaningful,” he said.

A resolution withdrawn

A resolution calling for a UN investigation into rights violations committed during the ongoing Saudi aggression against Yemen was withdrawn last week at the UN rights council due to protests from Saudi Arabia.

Yemen has been under military strikes on a daily basis since Saudi forces launched their military aggression against their southern neighbor on March 26, in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to the fugitive former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

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