UN secretary-general condemns airstrikes on Yemen prison

This image grab from a handout video made available by the Ansarullah Media centre on January 21, 2022 shows destruction at a prison in the Huthi rebel stronghold of Saada in northern Yemen after it was hit in an air strike leaving many dead or wounded. – An air strike has destroyed a prison in the Huthi rebel stronghold of Saada in northern Yemen, leaving many dead or wounded, the insurgents said as the Red Cross confirmed an attack. (Photo by Ansarullah media center / AFP) /

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Friday the airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Yemen that left at least 70 dead at a prison and disrupted telecommunications.

Guterres assailed the attack on the prison in Huthi territory in Saada and the strike on a telecommunications facility that killed at least three children in the port city of Hodeida, according to an aid group.

That attack, Guterres said, knocked out “vital” internet services in the war-torn country.

But he also condemned the attack by Huthi rebels Monday on Abu Dhabi which killed three people.

Guterres “reminds all parties that attacks directed against civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited by international humanitarian law,” the UN said in a statement.

(File photo) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a press conference at the end of his visit to crisis-ridden Lebanon, in the capital Beirut on December 21, 2021. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)

“He further reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure that civilians are protected against the dangers arising from military operations, adhering to the principles of proportionality, distinction and precaution,” it said.

Speaking to reporters after a broad new year address on the global situation to the UN General Assembly, Guterres called the Huthi attack on the United Arab Emirates — a member of the coalition fighting them — “regrettable” and “a serious mistake.”

“This escalation needs to stop,” he said.

He criticized the Huthis for not agreeing to meet with a UN official seeking to negotiate a halt to the violence.

“It is a big mistake for the Huthis not to receive our special envoy,” Guterres said.

“We have been in close contact with the different countries that keep a relationship with the Huthis to try to explain to them that it is in their interests and in the interest of peace, that our special envoy is able to go to Sanaa.”

“I hope that this will take place soon,” he said.


© Agence France-Presse