December 23, 2015 / 5:41 PM / 4 years ago

U.N. Security Council alarmed by Yemen ceasefire violations

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday voiced alarm at breaches of a ceasefire in Yemen that was introduced alongside U.N.-brokered peace talks aimed at ending a civil war between the exiled government and Iranian-allied Houthi rebels.

A soldier loyal to Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi walks past a destroyed building at the Mass army barracks after the pro-Hadi forces took it from Houthi rebels in the country's northwestern province of Marib December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Ali Owidha

The 15-nation council issued a statement noting its “deep concern at the number of violations of the cessation of hostilities committed during the talks.”

The unanimously approved declaration came out of Tuesday’s council meeting on Yemen, the first public session on the conflict since it began nine months ago.

The statement also “emphasized that the cessation of hostilities and compliance with related Security Council resolutions should lead to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”

A first round of peace talks adjourned on Sunday and the U.N.’s envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said the two sides would meet again on Jan. 14.

Warring parties in Yemen agreed to a renewable seven-day ceasefire under U.N. auspices that started Dec. 15, but it has been repeatedly violated.

The council also expressed its concern at “the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen, which continues to worsen.”

The United Nations says the conflict has killed nearly 6,000 people, almost half of them civilians, since a Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Houthis began in March.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday said more than 600 children had been killed and some 900 injured - a five-fold increase compared to 2014 - and that the Saudi-led coalition appeared to be responsible for a “disproportionate amount” of attacks on civilian areas in Yemen.

Western nations have been quietly increasing pressure on Saudi Arabia to seek a political deal to end the conflict, U.N. diplomats have said. Diplomats said Tuesday’s U.N. session was convened to shine a spotlight on the conflict and pressure all sides to seek a negotiated end to the bloodshed.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Paul Simao

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