RIYADH, July 3, (Agencies): Command of Arab Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen rejected false information mentioned in a report by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that children were killed in the armed conflict in that Arab country, coalition spokesman said on Monday. Speaking at a news conference in Riyadh, Colonel Turki Al-Malki added that the report stated several figures and attributed them to the coalition. He noted that the report also showed incorrect information, regarding this matter, that was provided by local organizations supported by Yemen’s former president.
These organizations offered incorrect data and information to UN workers, he pointed out. There was no documentation of such allegations either by photos or by time, he told the conference. The national investigation committee said in its report on human rights violations that there were more than 100 children killed in the battlefield and were transferred by Houthis militia to Sanaa, he said.
He elaborated that Houthis issued death certificates for these children, stressing that such figures included several errors. Al- Malki pointed out that the coalition has documented data which was not mentioned by the UN, as there are children, under eight years old, who have been recruited by Houthis. He holds Houthis militia responsible for killing children through recruiting them in the battlefield. He reiterated support by the coalition’s command to stances and political efforts by the legitimate Yemeni government. He referred that liberating Yemen’s Hudaydah port will cut supply lines for Houthis militia and will help change the UN national committee’s mechanism in facilitating the entry of food and humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, Yemeni government forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombarded rebel positions outside Hodeida after pausing their push into the strategic Red Sea port city, government sources said Tuesday. With the Shiite Houthi rebels building up their defences inside Hodeida to repel any advance, more civilians fled the city itself, AFP reporters said.
According to military sources, both sides were bringing in reinforcements. Hospital sources and local residents said 11 civilians and 43 rebel fighters were killed on Sunday and Monday as the rebels came under fire south of Hodeida and in Houthi retaliatory action. The rebels have held Hodeida since 2014 but government forces backed by the United Arab Emirates and other coalition troops launched a major assault last month and captured the disused airport on its southern outskirts — a major stepping stone for any push into the city. On Saturday, the government and the UAE announced a pause in their advance.
This week’s deadly bombardment targeted rebel positions in Tohayta, Beit al-Faqiya and Zabid, to the south of Hodeida, government military sources said. Three civilians were killed in their car in a coalition air strike targeting rebel military vehicles on a road near Zabid, residents said. Eight civilians, including four children, died in a rocket attack on Tohayta, witnesses said, with residents saying it was carried out by the rebels. Civilians from Hodeida were seen fleeing — loading suitcases, foam mattresses and sacks of basic provisions onto the back of pick-up trucks.
AFP journalists sighted families squeezed onto motorcycles, and other civilians fleeing in minibuses and other vehicles. Some pick-up trucks were so overloaded that the men clung onto the back rails and stood on bumpers while the women and children sat inside. Portraits of Saleh al-Sammad, a Houthi political chief killed in a coalition strike in April, gazed down from lampposts in litter-strewn streets outside the city. Many civilians have already fled frontline areas.
An elderly woman interviewed by AFP said she had abandoned her home just south of Hodeida for the relative safety of the city. “I refuse to go out. I’m still here crying when I sleep and crying when I wake up,” she said.
Another resident, Mohammed Ali, told AFP that many others had been unable to flee. “There are a lot of people still stuck in some villages without any aid. The human rights organisations have to help them,” he said. The head of the UN children’s agency warned Tuesday that fears over the collapse of Yemen’s healthcare and education systems had in essence materialised. “The worry about collapse has now passed beyond that,” said UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore, noting that many health workers and teachers had now gone unpaid for two years.