UN, Yemenis slam bloody Saudi raid on funeral

In a Thursday statement, the Ansarullah Political Council slammed as a “horrific crime” the Saudi air raid, which hit the funeral procession in the district of Arhab north of Sana’a earlier in the day.

“The raid one again revealed the enemy’s savagery and proved it is not committed to any religious principles or human values,” the statement raid.

The Yemeni nation, the statement added, would give a firm response to Saudi crimes on the battlefield, stressing the need for stiff resistance in the face of Riyadh’s aggression.

Thursday’s assault also wounded around 10 people. The fatalities are likely to rise as some of the injured are in critical condition.

Following the raid, it took hours for the local people to recover the bodies and the injured who were buried under the rubble.

Meanwhile, Hisham Sharaf, the foreign minister of Yemen’s National Salvation Government, sent two letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as well as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein in condemnation of the bloody Saudi attack.

The official said the fatal Saud raid “amounted to war crime,” calling for the formation of an international fact-finding committee to investigate Riyadh’s crimes.

Killing civilians ‘unjustifiable’

UN officials also joined the Yemenis in denouncing the raid, with the world body’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) expressing shock over the incident in a statement.

“The manner in which the parties to the conflict are waging this war is taking an unacceptable toll on the civilian population in Yemen and as illustrated by this most recent tragedy, women and children are paying with their lives,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick in the statement.

Yemenis check the site of an air raid that hit a funeral reception in the Arhab district north of Sana’a, on February 16, 2017 (Photo by AFP)

“I am alarmed to see this tragic loss of life further escalate the fighting, with reports of a retaliatory ballistic missile strike into Saudi Arabia’s Asir region,” he added.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed also warned in a separate statement that Yemeni civilians are losing their lives on a daily basis during indiscriminate attacks by the parties to the conflict.

“Attacks on civilians are unjustifiable, regardless of the circumstances. Women and children in particular have been subjected to unspeakable suffering in this brutal conflict. This should stop immediately,” he said.

Ahmed pointed to the existing humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen caused by the aggravating clashes on the Red Sea coast, saying tens of thousands of civilians have been caught in the war zone without access to humanitarian assistance and unable to flee to safety.

This is the latest in a series of such air strikes since 2015, when the Saudis launched the military campaign in support of the former Yemeni government, a close Riyadh ally.  

Last year, Saudi air strikes hit a funeral hall in Sana’a, killing 140 mourners, including children, and wounded over 600 others.