Saudi-led Arab coalition air strikes and various clashes claimed the lives of an estimated 200 fighters and civilians in Yemen on Monday, residents and media run by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have said. If the claims prove to be true, this is the highest death toll in one single day in the conflict so far, overshadowing a possible humanitarian truce.
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN special envoy to Yemen, has been in Yemen’s capital Sanaa since Monday. Cheikh Ahmed is seeking to arrange a pause in fighting, a “Ramadan Truce” to allow for deliveries of desperately needed humanitarian aid.
The United Nations has been on a quest to initiate a possible hiatus in the ground fighting, and has been pushing for a halt in air strikes during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Ongoing fighting in Yemen has resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people since March 25, when the Saudi-led coalition of Arab states began its intervention against the Iranian-backed Houthi forces in response to a call made by Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to help “save Yemen.”
Saba news agency, a Houthi-run news outlet, said 54 people were killed in a series of air raids in the Amran province, north of the capital Sanaa, including 40 who had been shopping at a market in an area called Lower Joub in the Eyal Yazeed district.
Another 40 people were killed in an air strike on a livestock market in the town of al-Foyoush in southern Yemen.
There were also 30 deaths from a strike on a Houthi checkpoint on the main road between Aden and Lahj. It has been reported that 10 of the dead were Houthi fighters.
A number of women and children were believed to be among the dead.
The Saudi-led coalition could not immediately be reached for comment, but a spokesman for the coalition has previously said the coalition does not target civilians.
Aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Monday that medical facilities have received hundreds of people wounded in air strikes and ground shelling across Yemen in recent days.
"It is unacceptable that air strikes take place in highly concentrated civilian areas where people are gathering and going about their daily lives, especially at a time such as Ramadan," said MSF head of mission in Yemen, Colette Gadenne.
The US State Department said in a statement that a truce should be enforced to allow relief organisations to deliver desperately needed aid, food, medicines and fuel to Yemenis.
The call comes one day after the United Nations declared the maximum level of humanitarian emergency in Yemen, and warned of an imminent collapse of the country’s health system.
Around 20 million Yemenis are suffering from a lack of water and a million people have been displaced from their homes as a result of the ongoing conflict.