UN Security Council to meet on Yemen bus massacre

UN Security Council to meet on Yemen school bus massacre
3 min read
10 August, 2018
An attack by the Saudi-led coalition on a school bus in rebel-held northern Yemen on Thursday killed at least 29 children.
The Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed at least 29 children. [Getty]
The UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors at the request of five countries on Friday to discuss the Saudi coalition attack on a bus carrying children in Yemen, diplomats said.

The meeting was requested by Bolivia, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, and Sweden, which are all non-permanent council members.

The Saudi-led coalition earlier announced that it had ordered an investigation into the airstrike on Thursday that killed at least 29 children traveling on the bus in Yemen.

"We have seen the images of children who died," Dutch Deputy Ambassador Lise Gregoire-van Haaren told reporters. "What is essential at this moment in time is to have a credible and independent investigation." 

It remained unclear whether the council would unite and call for action.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for an independent investigation of the attack that left at least 48 others wounded in the raid on the Houthi rebel stronghold of Saada. 

An AFP photographer at the shocking scene said the bus carrying the children had been turned into a mass of twisted metal, and that the remains of victims and their personal items were still scattered across the ground.
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"There are remains everywhere, we are still trying to confirm identities," Yahya Shayem, a health official in Saada, told AFP.

He could not confirm when funerals for the victims would take place.

'Massacre of children'

The coalition, which has been fighting Yemen's rebels since 2015, acknowledged responsibility for the strike, but claimed the bus was carrying "Houthi combatants". 

It said the coalition had carried out a "legitimate military action", targeting a bus in response to a deadly missile attack on Saudi Arabia on Wednesday by Houthi rebels.

In comments Friday on Twitter, the rebels' revolutionary council head, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, welcomed the UN call for an investigation and said his side was "willing to cooperate". 

Ahmed al-Mansouri, the director of Saada's Al-Jumhuri hospital, condemned what he called the "massacre of children". 

The war in impoverished Yemen has left nearly 10,000 people dead and unleashed what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis

On 2 August, attacks on a hospital and a fish market in the strategic rebel-held port city of Hodeida killed at least 55 civilians and wounded 170, according to the ICRC.

The coalition denied responsibility for those attacks.

Aid agency CARE International noted that Thursday's strike came a week after the Hodeida bombardment.

"This latest air strike, only a week after the attacks on Hodeida city, demonstrates a continued disregard for human life and suffering," said Johan Mooij, the agency's country director in Yemen.

"It is beyond cruel; innocent children's lives have been lost."

The war in impoverished Yemen has left nearly 10,000 people dead and unleashed what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a military campaign to restore the internationally recognized government to power and push back the Houthis, who still hold the capital Sanaa.

The United States, France and Britain - three of the five permanent council members - have supported the Saudi coalition in its military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, but have expressed concern over the heavy toll on civilians.

The war has left nearly 10,000 people dead and unleashed what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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