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Saudi air raids striking Yemen cultural heritage: UNESCO

13 May 2015 7:59


The director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen are targeting the country’s cultural heritage.

“I am particularly distressed by the news concerning air strikes on heavily populated areas such as the cities of Sana’a and Sa’ada,” UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia started its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 – without a UN mandate – in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which currently controls Sana’a and other major provinces, and to restore power to Yemen’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.

According to the latest UN figures, the Saudi military campaign has so far claimed the lives of over 1,400 people and injured close to 6,000, roughly half of whom have been civilians.

“In addition to causing terrible human suffering, these attacks are destroying Yemen’s unique cultural heritage, which is the repository of people’s identity, history and memory and an exceptional testimony to the achievements of the Islamic Civilization,” Bokova added.

Also on Monday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that at least 182 civilians have died, including 41 women and 51 children, in the ongoing crisis in Yemen from May 4 to May 10.

“A significant proportion of the casualties over this most recent six-day period – around half – were reportedly caused by airstrikes, especially in Sa’ada Governorate,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said.

The UN agency further stressed that residential areas and civilian houses have been hit by Saudi air assaults and ground fire, adding that at least 66 public buildings have been partially or completely destroyed in the attacks.

The UN Security Council also issued a statement on Tuesday, calling for a UN-guided peace on Yemen.

The UNSC also welcomed a five-day ceasefire in Yemen, adding that “all parties will need to transparently and reliably suspend military operations.”

The ceasefire kicked off at 11 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Tuesday.

The truce was proposed by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir last week. Yemen’s Ansarullah movement has announced its cooperation in any actions that will stop suffering in the country.

Saudi Arabia violated the ceasefire in war-torn Yemen just minutes after it was put in place in the impoverished Arab country by carrying out four raids in southwestern Lahij province, eastern Hajjah province and northwestern Sa’ada province late on Tuesday.

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