World

Civilians Killed in Houthi Shelling of Saudi Arabia’s Jazan

Civilians Killed in Houthi Shelling of Saudi Arabia’s Jazan

The UN has warned the Saudi-led coalition that a military attack or siege on the city, long a target in the war, could lead to the displacement of 250,000 people.

Global aid group Doctors Without Borders said Monday the Saudi-led coalition has attacked a cholera treatment center in the northern province of Hajja.

Britain requested the urgent talks after telling aid agencies on the ground that it had received a warning from the United Arab Emirates that an attack was imminent.

Two civilians were killed in a shelling, carried out on Saturday by Yemen's Houthi militants on the Saudi southwestern city of Jazan, the Saudi Al-Ekhbariya TV channel reported citing Saudi-led Arab coalition's statement.

The council met behind closed doors to hear United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths report on his diplomatic efforts to keep the rebel-held port of Hodeida open to shipments of aid and commercial goods.

Last week, Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, warned: "A military attack or siege on Hodeida will impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians".

Following the closed-door meeting, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who is council president this month, called for de-escalation and said the top United Nations body would be "closely" following developments. "We left it in his hands for the time being", Nebenzia told reporters.

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Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the alliance launched its intervention, contributing to what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, acknowledged the "humanitarian crisis" in Yemen and said he had met twice with Griffiths and also spoken to him by phone.

The United Arab Emirates has given the UN less than 48 hours to try to negotiate a Houthi ceasefire at the strategic Red Sea port of Hodeidah before it mounts an attack on the port through which the bulk of food, medicine and gas to the rest of Yemen is distributed.

Eleven humanitarian aid agencies, including Oxfam and Save the Children, separately urged British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to threaten to cut off British support to the coalition if it attacks Hodeida.

Griffiths is set to present on Monday a new peace plan for Yemen, but he has warned that military action could derail that effort. This incident took place on Friday.

Government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have been advancing along the western coast in recent weeks as they battle the Iran-allied rebels, known as Houthis.

The three-year conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced more than 3 million.