UN Reports Death Toll In US-Sponsored Yemen War Reaches 10,000
A UN envoy held talks with Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Hadi on Monday as the United Nations said the death toll from the war had reached 10,000.
The envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, was in Aden for the meeting that focused on a return to a ceasefire and to political talks to end the nearly two-year war.
The talks came as fighting in the southern Shabwa area on Monday reportedly killed 34 people and wounded 16 others during clashes between Houthi fighters and pro-government forces.
The United Nations said the civilian death toll in fighting since a Saudi-led force intervened in March 2015 had reached 10,000, up from the previous figure of 7,000.
The Saudi-led coalition has been blamed for most of the civilian casualties. The devastation has also drawn attention to the role of western powers who have continued to provide Riyadh with weapons, logistical support and intelligence. The Houthis have also been accused of human rights violations.
The higher toll “underscores the need to resolve the situation in Yemen without any further delay”, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq in New York. “There is a huge humanitarian cost.”
Jamie McGoldrick, humanitarian coordinator of the UN Development Programme, said the latest death toll is based on lists of victims gathered by hospitals and the true figure could be higher.
McGoldrick said up to 10 million Yemenis were also in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed is hoping to revive peace prospects in Yemen after Hadi rejected his proposed roadmap. He is due to report to the UN Security Council later this month.
The roadmap provides for a new unity government in Yemen and a rebel withdrawal from the capital and other cities.
“A peace agreement, including a well-articulated security plan and the formation of an inclusive government, is the only way to end the war that has fuelled the development of terrorism in Yemen and the region,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement.
“I asked the president to act swiftly and engage constructively with the UN’s proposal for the sake of the country’s future.”
“The current political stalemate is causing death and destruction every day. The only way to stop this is through the renewal of the cessation of hostilities followed by consultations to develop a comprehensive agreement.”
Under the proposal, Hadi’s powers would be dramatically diminished in favour of a new vice president who would oversee the formation of the interim government that will lead a transition to elections.
Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who control the capital, Sanaa, have faced a military campaign by the Saudi-led coalition to restore President Hadi as the recognised government.
The campaign has been unable to dislodge the Houthis from the capital and their strongholds in the north of the country and has been criticized for causing widespread civilian casualties and destruction of infrastructure.