Four children among seven dead as airstrike hits rural hospital in Yemen

Four children among seven dead as airstrike hits rural hospital in Yemen


Kitaf rural hospital in Yemen, where four children died. Photo: From social media
Kitaf rural hospital in Yemen, where four children died. Photo: From social media

An airstrike, most likely by the Saudi-led coalition, struck near a rural hospital in northern Yemen, killing seven people including four children, according to the charity Save the Children, which supports the facility.

Tuesday’s attack was the latest of many attacks on non-military targets that have killed thousands of civilians in the Middle East’s poorest nation. But what made this assault remarkable was that it came on the fourth anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s entry into Yemen’s civil war to restore its internationally recognised government against rebels known as Houthis.

The Saudi-led coalition, which is backed by the United States, is the only party in the war using warplanes, mostly American and British-made fighter jets.

“We are shocked and appalled by this outrageous attack,” said Carolyn Miles, the head of Save the Children in a statement. “Innocent children and health workers have lost their lives in what appears to have been an indiscriminate attack on a hospital in a densely populated civilian area.”

The morning airstrike struck a petrol station, less than 50 metres from the entrance to Kitaf hospital, according to the charity. The facility, about 100km from the northwestern city of Saada, one of the main stronghold of the Houthis, had been open for only a half an hour. Patients and staff were just arriving, said the charity.

Those killed included a health worker who died along with her two children, said the charity. Two other children and a security guard were also killed, as well as a seventh person.

Two other adults are still unaccounted for, suggesting the death toll could rise. An additional eight people were wounded, said the charity, which demanded an immediate investigation into the deaths.

“Attacks like these are a breach of international law,” said Ms Miles. “These children have the right to be safe in their hospitals, schools and homes. But time after time, we see a complete disregard by all warring parties in Yemen for the basic rules of war.”

The attack came two days after the release of a Save the Children report that found that at least 226 Yemeni children have been killed and 217 injured in airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition – a rate of 37 children a month.

The assault also came a day after the United Nations signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi-led coalition in the Saudi capital Riyadh, which pledged to enhance the protection of boys and girls trapped in Yemen’s war. According to numbers released this week by the Yemen Data Project, an independent monitoring group, the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign has claimed 17,729 civilian deaths and injuries in the past four years of war. These include 3,046 women and children.

A quarter of all civilians killed in airstrikes have been women and children.

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Irish Independent

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