Saudi troops in Yemen receive bonuses amid deadly strikes

Saudi troops in Yemen receive bonuses amid deadly strikes
3 min read
16 August, 2016
Saudi soldiers fighting in Yemen received bonuses from King Salman as the US and international aid groups condemned a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a MSF hospital that killed eleven people.
Saudi coalition troops get bonuses as airstrike on hospital is condemned [Getty]
Saudi soldiers fighting in Yemen are getting a month's extra salary from King Salman as the US and international aid groups condemned a coalition bombing raid on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital that killed at least 11 people.

MSF said Monday's airstrike on Abs hospital, in the northern Hajja province "immediately killed nine people, including a MSF staff member, and two more patients died while being transferred to Al Jamhouri hospital."

"At the moment of the strike, there were 23 patients in surgery, 25 in the maternity ward, 13 of whom were newborns, and 12 in paediatrics," the group said.

"The GPS coordinates of the hospital were repeatedly shared with all parties to the conflict and its location was well-known."

The Saudi handout comes after an escalation of the 17-month-old war following the suspension of peace talks between Yemen's Houthi rebels and the internationally recognised government.

King Salman "has ordered paying a month's salary to active participants at the front lines" of the Yemen operation, which began in March last year, the Saudi Press Agency reported late Sunday.

It comes a day after at least 10 children were killed in a coalition airstrike on an Islamic school in Saada, deep in the Houthis' northern heartland.

This was a horrific attack killing sick and injured people and the medical staff desperately trying to help them. The world cannot continue to turn a blind eye as the most vulnerable suffer in this terrible conflict.
- Sajjad Mohammad Sajid

The United States denounced the deadly strike on the Abs hospital but refrained from condemning outright the US-backed Saudi-led coalition that led the attack.

"We're deeply concerned by a reported strike on a hospital in northern Yemen," said State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau.

"Strikes on humanitarian facilities, including hospitals, are particularly concerning."

The US called "on all parties to cease hostilities immediately," but Trudeau did not specifically point to the Saudi-led coalition.


Meanwhile, a number of humanitarian organisations, including Oxfam, Care, Handicap International, Mercy Corps, Intersos and Save the Children condemned the Saudi-led coalition airstrike on the Abs hospital. 

The six agencies called for an independent investigation on the attack, the fourth of its kind on an MSF-supported facility in Yemen in less than a year.

"This was a horrific attack killing sick and injured people and the medical staff desperately trying to help them. The world cannot continue to turn a blind eye as the most vulnerable suffer in this terrible conflict," said Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, Oxfam's Yemen Country Director.

"The Saudi Arabia-led Coalition claims to have taken measures to prevent and end grave violations against children but they are clearly not working if children continue to be killed and injured and schools and hospitals attacked," said Edward Santiago, Save the Children's Yemen Country Director.

The war in Yemen has killed some 6,400 people and exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country, the United Nations says.

Saudi Arabia reacted angrily to a decision in June to blacklist the coalition after a UN report found the coalition responsible for 60 percent of the 785 deaths of children in Yemen last year.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon accused Saudi Arabia of threatening to cut off funding to UN aid programmes over the blacklist, a charge denied by Riyadh.

Last week, Ban reported to the UN Security Council on his controversial decision to remove the coalition from the UN list of shame, a move that sparked an outcry from human rights groups.

"I still have very strong concerns about the protection of Yemeni children," Ban said.

Ban said he had received information on the steps taken by the coalition but that these fell short and "the content of the (UN) report (on children's deaths) stands".