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Zeid warns of total collapse in Yemen, calls for urgent protection of civilians

GENEVA (31 March 2015) - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday expressed alarm about the fast deteriorating human rights situation in Yemen since 22 January when the legitimate Government under President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi was removed by force, provoking the recent military campaign by a coalition of ten countries lead by Saudi Arabia.

The High Commissioner called on all sides to protect civilians from harm, and to resolve their differences through dialogue rather than through the use of military force.

“The situation in Yemen is extremely alarming, with dozens of civilians killed over the past four days. The country seems to be on the verge of total collapse,” the High Commissioner said.

“I am shocked by Monday’s airstrike against the Al-Mazraq camp for internally displaced people in Harad, in the north of Yemen,” Zeid said. There are different accounts as to how many people were killed in the airstrike, but UN human rights staff in Yemen have verified at least 19 fatalities, with at least 35 others injured including 11 children. This camp, home to some 4,000 people, was established by the UN in 2009 and recently received at least 300 new families displaced from Sa'da.

In Dhale, the 33rd armoured division and Houthis-affiliated brigades reportedly attacked three hospitals, causing an unknown number of casualties.

"I roundly condemn all attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities, which have a special protected status under international law," Zeid said.

Heavy fighting has also been reported in the streets of Aden, resulting in casualties and making the humanitarian situation extremely difficult.

Since 27 March, at least 93 civilians have been killed and 364 injured in Sanaá, Sa'da, Dhale, Hudayda and Lahj.

“Private homes, hospitals, education facilities and infrastructure in several locations have been destroyed, making life even more difficult for the people in this war-torn country,” Zeid said. Civilian airports as well as electricity supplies have also been targeted by airstrikes in Sa’da, Sanaá and Hudayda.

Hundreds of people are reported to have fled their homes in Sana’a, Sa’sa and Dhale and are now displaced.

“The killing of so many innocent civilians is simply unacceptable,” the High Commissioner said. “The principles of proportionality, distinction, and precaution fully apply in this context. International human rights law and humanitarian law should be fully respected.”

ENDS

For further information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org)mailto:rshamdasani@ohchr.orgor Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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