An airstrike has killed more than 140 people in Yemen and wounded more than 500. The attack was carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, targeting a funeral hall where mourners were gathered to remember Ali al- Rawishan, the father of Interior Minister, Galal al-Rawishan. The airstrike killed many civilians, but also some Shia Houthi military and security officials who are fighting the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The airstrike resulted in the highest death toll in the conflict, which began in March 2015 and has since plunged the country into famine and ongoing violence. As reported by Al Jazeera, the conflict has intensified since August when peace talks ended in Kuwait with no resolution.
The United Nations released a statement expressing its ‘outrage’ and ‘shock’ at the incident. The UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick responded by reminding all parties that under ‘international humanitarian law [all parties] are obliged to protect civilians and civilian infrastructures’. Saudi Arabia has denied carrying out the attack. They instead suggested ‘other causes’ should be looked at, as reported by the Guardian.
The conflict involves the Yemen government and Houthi rebels and escalated in 2015 with the intervention of an Arab coalition in support of the government–largely led by Saudi Arabia. The Houthis gained control of Sana, the capital of Yemen, and since then a stalemate has ensued. This conflict has caused the country to fall into extreme poverty. Both sides have been warned of human rights violations. The United States have supported the Saudi-led coalition, however, their support has been reduced. The BBC has reported that the White House National Security Council recently reminded the world that the ‘co-operation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check.’
The conflict in Yemen has largely been overshadowed in the United Nations and the international media by the crises in Syria and Iraq and has consequently been largely overlooked. This catastrophic attack will hopefully turn the attention of the international community towards Yemen. The 10,000 civilians who have reportedly lost their lives in the conflict have not attracted a large degree of international concern, however, we hope that this latest airstrike will. Yemen, the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, needs immediate financial and political support to overcome the famine plaguing their society and for the conflict to be diplomatically resolved. With UN talks being unsuccessful, perhaps mediation or the UN Secretary General should be utilized.