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UN secretary general renews call for end to Yemen conflict

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate end to “hostilities” in Yemen amid a rise in the number of civilian fatalities caused by Saudi airstrikes.

Ban, in a statement released on Wednesday, asked “all parties to the conflict to immediately cease all hostilities and for the Yemeni parties to return to direct talks facilitated by his special envoy for Yemen.”

Riyadh has dramatically stepped up its air raids in Yemen, especially Sana’a, ever since peace talks in Kuwait between representatives of the Saudi-backed former government and Houthis were suspended on August 6.

The UN chief reminded all parties “of the utmost necessity to protect civilians and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.”

Ban further condemned the loss of at least nine civilian lives in a recent Saudi aerial attack against the Nihm district east of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, but he did not name the kingdom in his criticism.

“Civilians, including children, are paying the heaviest price in the ongoing conflict, as civilian infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, continue to be hit,” he said.

The attack came less than 48 hours after Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Saudi airstrikes on a school in the northern province of Sa’ada had killed 10 children.

The UN chief has already taken flak for dropping Saudi Arabia from a list of children’s rights violators after coming under “undue pressure.”

On Wednesday, the Ansarullah spokesman held Saudi Arabia responsible for the stalemate and rising deaths in Yemen, saying the Houthi movement had given a series of concessions but the opposite side was sticking to its uncompromising ways.

Mohammed Abdulsalam, in a post published on his Twitter account, said Ansarullah had decided to change its tactics and “firmly stand by the Yemeni nation.”

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On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia kept on attacking new positions across Yemen. Yemeni reports said warplanes had carried out nearly 50 airstrikes against various neighborhoods across the Sa’ada province in a span of 24 hours.

At least three people lost their lives and eight others sustained injuries on Wednesday evening when a Saudi jet struck a residential building in Majz district.

Saudi warplanes also launched two airstrikes against the Kahlan military base, and another against non-operational Sana’a International Airport.

Furthermore, Saudi aircraft struck Sahar and Ḥaydan districts in Sa’ada Province.

Yemen has been under Saudi military strikes since late March 2015 in a bid to reinstate Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has stepped down as Yemen’s president but is now seeking to grab power by force.

According to UN, the conflict in Yemen has damaged or demolished more than 70 health centers, including three MSF facilities.

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