Retaliatory airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, on February 15, killed 31 Yemeni civilians and injured 12, in the Al-Hayjah area in the Al-Jawf province. The casualties included many women and children. The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lisa Grande, denounced the “terrible” airstrikes, adding that “under international humanitarian law, parties which resort to force are obligated to protect civilians.”
#Yemen: Preliminary field reports indicate that on 15 February as many as 31 civilians were killed and 12 others injured in strikes that hit Al Hayjah area of Al Maslub District in Al Jawf Governorate.
— OCHA Yemen (@OCHAYemen) February 16, 2020
The airstrike was in retaliation for the downing of a Saudi Tornado fighter jet that was reportedly shot down by the Ansar Allah or the Houthis in the same area, on the same day. The Ansar Allah claimed responsibility for the downing of the Saudi fighter jet, releasing a video of what they called was the launch of their “advanced surface to air missile.”
Civilian casualties have risen exponentially since the Saudi-led international military coalition began bombing Yemen in March 2015 with the aim of uprooting the Houthis. The coalition is backed and logistically supported by the United States, France and the United Kingdom.
The coalition has conducted close to 21,000 airstrikes in Yemen since 2015, killing thousands of civilians, as an attempt to reinstall the government of now-exiled Abdrrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Hadi was the former president of Yemen before he was overthrown by the Houthi forces because of the widespread corrupt practices.
The war in Yemen has resulted in what has been described by the United Nations as the ‘world’s worst humanitarian crisis’, killing more than 100,000 Yemenis, most of them civilians. It has also displaced millions, and created dire food and medicine shortages in the country, putting in jeopardy the lives and daily survival of millions of Yemenis.