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UN says it could help 3 million in Yemen if a pause holds

United Nations

United Nations:  The latest attempt at a humanitarian pause in Yemen “has not been respected by any party to the conflict,” the UN humanitarian chief said, adding that a plan to reach 3 million Yemenis with aid is ready to go if only the fighting would stop.

Stephen O’Brien briefed the Security Council yesterday and repeated the call for an “unconditional freeze” in the months-long fighting between a Saudi-led coalition and Shiite Houthi rebels in the Arab world’s poorest country.

A five-day humanitarian pause announced by the Saudi-led coalition quickly fell apart early Monday. An earlier pause announced this month by the UN also failed.

O’Brien told the council that as of last Friday, health facilities in Yemen had reported more than 4,000 conflict-related deaths since the coalition began airstrikes in late March.

He said he will travel to Yemen in the coming weeks, and Yemen’s UN ambassador said he welcomes the Aug. 9 visit.

O’Brien is expected to visit the southern port city of Aden, which the UN says has been devastated in the four months of fighting.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen was only able to reach Aden this week for a brief visit after a 12-hour boat ride via Djibouti.

The Saudi-led coalition has been accused repeatedly of killing civilians in its airstrikes against the Houthis, but the country’s UN ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, tried to play down expressions of concern about “casualties here, casualties there.”

“I can assure you that no deliberate targeting of civilian sites is being undertaken by coalition forces,” he told reporters.

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