U.N. to discuss humanitarian pause in Yemen

Russia called for the meeting of the 15-member council amid growing alarm over the rising civilian death toll

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The U.N. Security Council will meet Saturday to discuss a Russian proposal for humanitarian pauses in the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, diplomats said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Russia called for the meeting of the 15-member council amid growing alarm over the rising civilian death toll from the fighting in Yemen.

Alexey Zaytsev, spokesman for the Russian mission at the United Nations, said the closed-door consultations would be about "possible humanitarian pauses in air strikes."

The meeting is scheduled for 1500 GMT.

Russia’s request to halt the air strikes came as Gulf countries were pushing for a U.N. resolution that would impose an arms embargo and sanctions on the Houthi rebels.

But the draft text came up against strong opposition from Russia, which proposed amendments to apply the arms embargo to the entire country and to limit sanctions.

The U.N.’s peace envoy for Yemen, Jamal Benomar, flew to New York this week for meetings amid reports that Gulf countries were demanding that he be replaced.

Fierce fighting

On Thursday, U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos said she was "extremely concerned" about the fate of civilians trapped in fierce fighting after aid agencies reported that 519 people had been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in two weeks.

The U.N. children’s agency this week said at least 62 children had been killed and 30 injured over the past week in Yemen, and that more of them were being recruited as child soldiers.

Aid groups have raised alarm over civilian casualties following an air strike on a camp for displaced people and the bombing of a dairy. Dozens were killed in both attacks.

Violence has sharply escalated in Yemen following a Saudi-led air campaign launched on March 26 to stop an advance by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that forced President Abedrabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations is backing Hadi as Yemen’s legitimate leader in the face of the Houthi uprising that has plunged the poor Arab state deeper into chaos.

The Houthis and miltias of the deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh seized power in the capital Sanaa in February and last month advanced on the port city of Aden, Hadi’s stronghold, forcing him to go into exile.

[With AFP]

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