UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an independent and immediate investigation into an attack that struck a bus carrying children in Yemen, said Farhan Haq, a UN deputy spokesman, in a press release.
A Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus in Yemen’s northern Saada province killed 50 and wounded another 77, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement earlier in the day.
“The Secretary-General condemns today’s air strike by coalition forces in Saada that hit a busy market area in Majz district and struck a bus carrying children from a summer camp. He asks for an independent and immediate investigation into this incident,” Haq said on Thursday.
Guterres calls on all parties to the Yemen conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and encourages them to engage in dialogue, the spokesman said.
Haq added that according to local health authorities, most of the victims were children aged 10 to 13 years.
Yemen has been torn in an armed conflict between the internationally recognized government headed by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Houthi-led Ansarullah resistance movement since 2015. The coalition of most of the Persian Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia has been conducting air strikes against the resistance fighters at Hadi’s request since March 2015.
Meanwhile the new UN special envoy to Yemen, former British diplomat Martin Griffiths, is planning to invite the warring parties to Geneva in September to discuss a framework for negotiations.
He told the BBC’s Lyse Doucet that if the conflict is left unresolved, Yemen could collapse and the international community could be looking at “Syria-plus” in the years to come.
“The war in Yemen will get more complicated the longer it goes on. There will be more international interest and polarisation in terms of the parties, it will fragment further, it will be more difficult to resolve – even more than it is now,” the diplomat warned.