CAIRO - The United Nations said shelling of a camp for displaced people in northern Yemen killed eight civilians and wounded 30 others, as the U.N. envoy arrived Monday in the capital, Sana'a, for cease-fire talks with Houthi rebels.
The U.N. said the attack occurred on Saturday in the northern province of Hajjah, where tens of civilians have been killed and hundreds of families displaced in the past two months. The U.N. said an attack earlier in January near the same camp killed six children and two women.
Lise Grance, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement late on Sunday that the shelling was a "senseless attack."
"The people who have fled their homes... have lost so much already. An attack like this cannot be justified — ever,'' she said. Grande didn't identify the source of the shelling, which took place in the province's Haradh district. No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths, meanwhile, arrived in Sana'a on an unannounced visit to discuss the situation in and around the coastal city of Hodeida, where Yemen's warring parties agreed to a cease-fire last month. The two sides also agreed to a prisoner exchange last month that has yet to take place.
Also under discussion will be disagreements between Yemen's Houthi rebels, who hold Hodeida, and retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, who is heading a U.N. mission charged with monitoring the cease-fire. The mission plans to send additional observers into Yemen and wants to secure their safety, especially after a U.N.-marked armored vehicle in Cammaert's convoy was hit with a round of small arms fire earlier this month.
Griffiths said there is a political will now more than ever to end the conflict in Yemen. "We are all on the same page that the way to do this is through the negotiations' table, and not the battlefield," he said in an exclusive interview with the pro-Saudi Asharq al-Awsat newspaper published on Monday.
Griffiths said he expected the frameworks struck during U.N.-hosted peace talks in Sweden in December between the Houthis and the internationally recognized Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, will likely be extended, as the situation on the ground is more complex, according to transcript of the interview provided by his office.
The two sides agreed in Sweden to a prisoner swap and cease-fire in Hodeida, a port of entry for much humanitarian aid to Yemen, to facilitate relief to a population pushed to the brink of famine by the war. Fighting has largely abated in Hodeida but progress on the withdrawal has been slow.
Yemen plunged into civil war in 2014 when rebels captured Sana'a. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia entered the war in March 2015 as government forces looked poised to lose Aden to Houthi advance. The U.S. supported the coalition for years despite its airstrikes killing civilians, and only recently began to step back after the October killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents.