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UN: Saudi Arabian Airstrikes in Yemen Kill, Maim Civilians

Smoke rises after an airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen, March 22, 2018.

Saudi Arabian airstrikes are to blame for most civilian deaths and injuries in Yemen, says a report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council by the U.N. Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Yemen is entering its fourth year of conflict, a conflict the United Nations says is getting worse, with no end in sight.

In late March 2015, Saudi Arabia began bombing Houthi rebels in support of the government.Since then, the U.N. Human Rights Office has verified 6,100 civilian deaths,more than one quarter of them children, and nearly 9,700 injuries.

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore, who presented the report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, says the actual number of casualties is likely to be far higher.

"The leading cause of civilian casualties are the airstrikes conducted by the Saudi-led coalition," she said. "These strikes are responsible for over 61 percent of all civilian casualties, with indiscriminate shelling and sniper fire in densely populated areas by the Houthis accounting for much of the remainder."

Gilmore says drone attacks by the United States, and other attacks by groups affiliated with al-Qaida and Islamic State have continued, mostly in Yemen's southern governorates.

The United Nations condemns the Saudi coalition's blockade of Yemen's sea and airports. It says the restrictions on imports and humanitarian assistance are compounding the already unbearable suffering of millions of people.

The United Nations says 22 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid and eight million are at risk of famine.The U.N. refugee agency estimates more than two million people are internally displaced.

Human rights advocates point to one positive development. They welcome the appointment by the U.N. Human Rights Council of a group of experts to investigate abuses and violations committed by all parties in Yemen and, wherever possible, to identify the perpetrators of the crimes.