Yemen government says UN silence led to Houthi attack on Saada

Officials condemn attack that killed dozens of civilians at a busy market

ATTENTION EDITORS - SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB    A man injured by an air strike on a market in Yemen's Saada province arrives to receive medical attention at a local Al Jomhouri hospital in Saada, Yemen July 29, 2019. REUTERS/Naif Rahma
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The Yemeni government said on Tuesday that the UN’s lack of condemnation of Houthi crimes led the rebels to carry out a rocket attack on a market in the northern province of Saada, which killed dozens of civilians.

"The UN or the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths unfortunately is not condemning this crime," Hamza Al Kamaly, Yemen's deputy youth minister, told The National.

"They are ignoring the terrorist acts carried out by the Houthis."

The four-year war begun by the Iran-aligned rebels has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions on the brink of famine, the UN says.

Since the uprising began in 2014, the rebels have killed thousands of innocent Yemenis, Mr Al Kamaly said.

“The UN is allowing the Houthis to kill civilians without commenting on their heinous acts,” he said.

Preliminary reports by the UN indicated that 14 people died, including four children.

"An additional 26 people, including 14 children, have been reportedly injured. Several of the wounded are in a critical condition," said the UN, citing reports by local health authorities.

This is not the first time the international community ignored the Houthi atrocities, said Majed Fadhil, Yemen’s deputy human rights minister.

"The disregard by the UN and the international community for the continuous massacres committed by the rebels against children, women and men were also seen in the provinces of Hajour and Hajjah," Mr Fadhil told The National.

“The time has come for the international community to take a clear stance against the rebels."

Information Minister Muammar Al Eryani wrote on Twitter that the Houthis had fired Katyusha rockets at the Saada market.

"I call on the international community, the UN and the UN Secretary General to condemn this heinous crime and to designate the Houthi militias as a terrorist organisation," Mr Al Eryani wrote.

The crimes committed by the militias against civilians is a punishment "for the position they have taken against the rebels and for their support towards the Coalition", he said.

In response a UN official told The National that the world body has continuously condemned the violations carried out by the rebels.

Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Yemen, issued a statement late on Tuesday denouncing the attack on Sadaa.

"This is a terrible turn of events. For three months, the number of reported civilian casualties in Saada has been falling," Ms Grande said.

"This is a reversal of everything everyone has been working towards these last weeks and months.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading the Arab Coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government, which was driven from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.

The Coalition called the attack a massacre against innocent civilians.

“Coalition forces were working with tribal leaders in the province to transfer injured civilians to the city of Jazan in Saudi Arabia,” Coalition spokesman Col Turki Al Malki said.

“The attack carried out by the Houthis on Al Thabit market is a terrorist act to spite Yemenis and the tribes of Al Thabi.”