The UN has condemned an airstrike on a detention center in northern Yemen as the death toll rose to more than 80.
The airstrike in rebel-held Sa’ada province on Friday morning followed a Houthi drone strike in the United Arab Emirates on Monday that killed three people. It marks an escalation of violence in the seven-year civil war between the government, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, and Iranian-backed rebels.
Hundreds of people were injured in the attack on the detention center. Doctors Without Borders reported that the al-Gumhourriyeh hospital in Sa’ada had received some 200 wounded patients could not treat more.
MSF also said 82 deaths had been confirmed, citing figures from the Health Ministry in Sana’a. At least 266 people were injured, he said.
The Saudi-led coalition denied reports that it had bombed the prison in a statement on saturday morning.
“The coalition will inform the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Yemen and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the facts and details,” the official Saudi news agency said, citing a spokesman for the coalition. The coalition also said the prison had not been on a UN-agreed no-targeting list and had not been reported by the Red Cross.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in response to Friday’s attacks that “the escalation must stop.” In a statement released by his spokesman, he said the airstrikes, which included other parts of the country, had resulted in child casualties, and reminded all parties that “attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international humanitarian law.” .
Another attack in the port city of Hodeida hit a telecommunications center, reportedly killing three children playing on a soccer field and cutting off the country’s internet access.
MSF head of mission in Yemen, Ahmed Mahat, said: “There are still many bodies at the site of the airstrike, many missing people. It is impossible to know how many people have died. It appears to have been a horrific act of violence.”
The strikes in rebel-held parts of Yemen came after a drone attack on Monday in Abu Dhabi for which Houthi leaders claimed responsibility.
The UN security council condemned the Houthi attack, which killed three people and wounded six, in a statement on Friday: “The members of the security council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous terrorist attacks in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. United Arab Emirates, on Monday, January 17, as well as at other sites in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“The members of the security council underlined the need to hold accountable the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism and bring them to justice.”
The UN estimates that the war in Yemen had killed 377,000 people by the end of 2021, both directly and indirectly through famine and disease. Millions more have been displaced. He said earlier this week that the level of violence this month could soon exceed that of December, due to the number of airstrikes, drones and rockets launched, with an alarming number against civilians and non-military targets.