On Friday, a Saudi opposition conducted airstrike targeted an assembly of historical monuments of uniques beauty in the Old City of Sanaa, based on the intel that one Shiite Houthi rebel senior commander is hiding at the site. The airstrike left six people dead, adding to the list of approximately 2,500 deaths since the conflict began and a pile of rubble where the majestic tower like houses used to overlook the city before.
To this extent, a number of UN agencies have condemned the attack. Among them, UNESCO, represented by Irina Bokova called upon the destructive actions of the anti-rebel coalition, led by Saudi Arabia.
In the Old City of Sanaa, the oldest building is more than 1,400 years old. The entire Old City stands testimony to a unique culture and development of the region. It is also a UNESCO protected site.
To the accusations, the anti-rebel coalition which is backed by the United States responded that:
“The leadership of the alliance has not performed any operations in these historic districts and has not targeted ancient Sanaa”,
according to Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri.
On the other hand, Houthi backed reports indicate six victims and a total of five buildings being destroyed. Irina Bokova, head of UNESCO stated that she is appalled by the increasing number of lives being taken, as well as shocked by the calculated destruction of some of the
“oldest jewels of Islamic urban landscape.”
Sanaa has been a thriving inhabited space since 2,500 years ago. It was included on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1986 and is indeed a specific cultural testimony of regional history and development.
But UNESCO is not the only UN agency concerned by the unfurling conflict and that is drawing alarm signals. According to Jeremy Hopkins, the deputy representative at UNICEF, while 2,500 people lost their lives so far, another staggering 20.4 million are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
Of these, an approximate 9.3 million are children stranded in a conflict between the rebel Shia backed by Iran and the Sunni anti-rebel coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
In 2012, Yemeni president Saleh, also Shia, was deposed. His supporters occupied the capital of Yemen during the previous year, in September. The current president of Yemen, Sunni Hadi is found in forced exile, while Sanaa is the military playground of the two forces striving for power.
For the population of Yemen, the simple fact that blockades have been installed on all its ports means that people do not have access to safe water as a basic human necessity. Fuel is blocked from the country and water pumps are all mechanic.
Against this background, the Saudi-led coalition stated after the airstrike that hit Sanaa Old City that the military campaign will not be stopped until Houthi withdrawal is demanded and implemented at UN level, via a UNSC resolution.
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