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UN chief urges independent investigation of Yemen attacks

UN chief urges independent investigation of Yemen attacks

United Nations: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the UN Human Rights Council to immediately establish an independent body to investigate rights abuses and other violations in Yemen, especially following last weekend's "horrendous attack" by the Saudi-led coalition on a funeral hall.

The UN chief told reporters that Saturday's airstrikes in Yemen's capital Saana, which killed over 140 people and injured more than 525 others, were the latest disasters in the Yemen conflict, which has left over 20 million people "an astounding 80 percent of the population" in need of humanitarian aid.

"Aerial attacks by the Saudi-led coalition have already caused immense carnage and destroyed much of the country's medical facilities and other vital civilian infrastructure," Ban said yesterday.

"Bombing people already mourning the loss of loved ones is reprehensible."

"This latest horrific incident demands a full inquiry," he said.

"More broadly, there must be accountability for the appalling conduct of this entire war."

Earlier yesterday, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein denounced the airstrikes and faulted the Human Rights Council for not doing more in the face of a "climate of impunity" in the impoverished, war-torn country.

He reiterated his calls for an independent investigation of abuses in Yemen, which the 47-member Geneva-based council, which includes Saudi Arabia, all but ignored at its last session in September.

Ban noted Zeid's call and said his strong message to the Human Rights Council, especially after Saturday's attacks, is "to fulfill its duty and act."

"Despite mounting crimes by all parties to the conflict, we have yet to see the results of any credible investigations," the secretary-general said.

"Excuses ring hollow given the pattern of violence throughout the conflict. Parties cannot hide behind the fog of this war."

Since the Saudi-led, US-backed coalition started launching airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels in March 2015, at least 4,125 civilians have been killed and over 7,200 wounded in Yemen, Zeid's office said in a statement, including 369 civilian casualties this month alone.

The Saudi-led coalition backs the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The coalition is fighting Shiite Houthi rebels and supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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