The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Wednesday reported that an airstrike carried out by the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition in Yemen killed 20 civilians—including women and children—who were fleeing violence in their home province.
"The people of Yemen are being subjected to deprivation, disease, and death as the world watches."
—Stephen O'Brien, United Nations
"The incident was reported on Tuesday afternoon and the number of civilian casualties are still being verified with initial reports pointing to at least 20 deaths," the agency said in statement. "Most of those killed are believed to be from the same family. Injuries have also been reported with a number also taken to nearby hospitals for treatment."
Those killed in the airstrike were among the more than two million internally displaced Yemenis "who have fled elsewhere across Yemen since the beginning of the conflict, but continue to be exposed to danger as the conflict has affected all of Yemen's mainland governorates," the U.N. noted.
"The people of Yemen are being subjected to deprivation, disease, and death as the world watches," Stephen O'Brien, the U.N. under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said in a recent speech to the UN Security Council. "Crisis is not coming, it is not looming, it is here today—on our watch and ordinary people are paying the price."
William Spindler, spokesperson for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said that the strike on Tuesday "once again demonstrates the extreme dangers facing civilians in Yemen, particularly those attempting to flee violence, as they disproportionately bear the brunt of conflict."
"It also illustrates the difficulties in the delivery of humanitarian protection and assistance in Yemen," Spindler added. "UNHCR, as the lead agency for protection under the coordinated humanitarian response in Yemen, has been appealing to parties to the conflict to ensure their utmost in the protection of civilians and the mitigation of suffering."
News of the latest deadly airstrike comes as the Trump administration is under fire for continuing to sell weapons to and heap praise upon the Saudi regime, which has been accused of intentionally targeting Yemeni civilians.
The UN's reporting also came as the Saudi-led coalition blocked a flight destined for Yemen's capital because international journalists were aboard, according to Reuters.
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The move was denounced by critics as an effort to suppress reporting on the U.S.-Saudi air campaign in the country and its devastating humanitarian consequences.
Saudi-led coalition blocks UN flight carrying BBC journos to Yemen - humanitarian crisis there spiraling by the day: https://t.co/Oq0FTS8hsV
— Louisa Loveluck (@leloveluck) July 19, 2017
This is why there's no recent coverage by western media on Yemen's hunger and cholera crisis. https://t.co/Iu8AaBMYIv
— Sudarsan Raghavan (@raghavanWaPo) July 18, 2017
Why the world is not hearing about Yemen: Saudi-led coalition blocks U.N. aid flight because of journalists aboard https://t.co/jcTDCcL97x
— Ben Hubbard (@NYTBen) July 18, 2017
The Saudis don't want you to know about their war crimes in Yemen so they block UN aid flight w journalists on board https://t.co/3Amd7jGmc6
— Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal) July 19, 2017