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Grim Milestone Reached in Yemen Fighting: 10,000 Civilian Dead

FILE - Forensics experts gather evidence in the rubble of a funeral hall destroyed by a deadly Saudi-led airstrike in Sana'a, Yemen, Oct. 8, 2016.

United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is in Yemen as the U.N. marks a grim milestone — 10,000 civilians dead in fighting.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with senior Yemeni leaders Monday, including President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, to appeal for a return to the April truce.

“Yemen's political elite have a responsibility to shield people from further harm, protect their country's future, and commit to a peaceful settlement,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed said. “The current political stalemate is causing death and destruction every day.”

Truce is key to peace

The U.N. envoy said the only way to stop this suffering in Yemen is for all sides to abide by the truce and sit down at the peace table.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed plans to meet later this week with Houth rebel representatives.

The U.N. says the fighting in Yemen has killed about 10,000 civilians since a Saudi-led Arab coalition launched airstrikes almost two years ago and sent in ground forces to defeat the Houthis.

Neighborhoods are gone

The airstrikes have wiped out entire neighborhoods in the capital, Sana'a.

The Iranian-backed rebels seized control of Sana'a in 2014. U.N. efforts toward putting together a permanent cease-fire and an interim government have so far failed.

Yemen is one of the world's poorest nations. U.N. estimates say about 80 percent of the civilian population is in desperate need of food and medicine.