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Red Cross 'worried' at abandoned corpses in Yemen war

The conflict has so far claimed over 4,000 lives from March up until August [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 August, 2015

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An international humanitarian organisation said it is "extremely concerned" by a growing number of corpses being abandoned in the war zones of Yemen, as the fighting continues to escalate.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has expressed "extreme concerns" over the growing number of corpses being abandoned in the war zones of Yemen.

"With the escalation of the fighting, more casualties are being left behind owing to the increased danger associated with retrieving the wounded and the dead," said Nourane Houas, head of the ICRC's Protection Department in war-ravaged Yemen.

     Failure to identify the dead puts them in the ranks of the missing, and prevents the families from mourning

"International humanitarian law requires that dead bodies be treated properly and with respect," the ICRC said in a statement.

Houas urged all sides in the conflict "to respect the dignity of the dead and to allow their swift recovery, while taking all feasible measures to ensure their proper identification and their handover to the families".

Under Islam, the predominant religion in Yemen, the dead should be buried the same day whenever possible.

"Failure to identify the dead puts them in the ranks of the missing, and prevents the families from mourning," said Houas.

The ICRC said it has helped retrieve more than 407 dead bodies since March.

Red Cross' comments come as London-based human rights group, Amnesty International, issued a statement on Tuesday saying that all sides fighting in the Yemen war had left a "trail of civilian death and destruction" and the killing of innocent people could amount to war crimes.

Fighting in the country has intensified over the past few months.

On Tuesday, Saudi-led coalition warplanes hit the Houthi-controlled Red Sea port of Hodeida, destroying cranes and warehouses in the main entry point for aid supplies to Yemen's north.

The attack comes at a crucial time, as aid is essential in the country right now. According to UN figures, around 80 percent of Yemen's 21 million people need aid and protection.

The World Health Organisation says the conflict has so far claimed 4,345 lives from March up until August 5. Half of those killed are civilians.

The UN Security Council is due to hear a report from aid chief Stephen O'Brien on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen late Wednesday.

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