White House raises concerns about harm to civilians in Yemen

White House raises concerns about harm to civilians in Yemen

White House raises concerns about harm to civilians in Yemen

Yemeni rescuers search for victims under the rubble of the police headquarters after the building was struck overnight by Saudi-led air strikes on January 18, 2016 in the rebel-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa. AFP Photo

The White House on Jan. 23 said it was deeply concerned about reports of harm to civilians amid escalating violence in Yemen, and called on all sides involved in the conflict to resume peace talks. 

“The United States takes all credible accounts of civilian deaths seriously and we again call on all sides of the conflict in Yemen to do their utmost to avoid harm to civilians,” said National Security Council spokesman Ned Price in a statement. 

Price noted recent attacks that killed an ambulance driver associated with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Dahyan, a freelance journalist near Sana’a, and civilians in Sana’a and at the Ras Isa oil terminal. 

The White House also called for attacks on Yemen’s Red Sea ports to come to an immediate end to allow food and other essential supplies to get to all Yemenis.

Meanwhile, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen said Jan. 23 that they were seeking ways to ensure unconditional access to Taiz, a city of about 25,000 residents besieged by Shiite rebels who control the capital and have been fighting an internationally recognized government.

“Only a few shops are open. Food and other basic goods needed to survive are in short supply. Basic services are scarce, including access to water and fuel,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick said in Sanaa, the capital, following a visit to Taiz, according to the Associated Press.

“Humanitarian access to three districts within the city has been difficult for many months,” while hospitals have not been spared the violence, said McGoldrick.

Taiz has been besieged for months by Shiite rebels known as Houthis who have been indiscriminately shelling the war-devastated city and blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid, according to residents and aid groups.

The Saudi-led coalition began airstrikes against the Houthis and their allies in March 2015, siding with the internationally recognized government.