March 31, 2015 / 5:01 PM / 5 years ago

U.N. says attack on Yemen camp broke law, calls for accountability

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - An air strike that killed at least 40 people at a camp for displaced people in north Yemen was a violation of international law and those responsible should be held accountable, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The Mazraq camp for displaced people near Haradh was struck on Monday, humanitarian workers said. Some 200 people were wounded, dozens of them seriously, the International Organization for Migration said.

“We have not identified who is responsible for this attack,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said. “Whichever forces are hitting them are in violation of the law, there should be accountability for that and ultimately all such attacks have to cease.”

Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Arab states in a six-day-old air campaign against the Shi’ite Houthis, who emerged as the most powerful force in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country when they seized Yemen’s capital last year.

A Saudi military spokesman said on Monday the kingdom was seeking clarification on the incident.

Mazraq, in the province of Hajja next to the Saudi border, is a cluster of camps that are home to thousands of Yemenis displaced by over a decade of wars between the Houthis and the Yemeni state, as well as East African migrants.

“Whoever is responsible, this is a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. This camp, as well as the hospitals that have also been hit, are under protected status and should not be hit,” Haq said.

Haq said the United Nations has now withdrawn its remaining 13 international staff from Yemen, leaving several hundred local staff to continue the world body’s work. There were about 100 international U.N. staff in Yemen.

In response to calls by Yemen for an Arab ground intervention, Haq said: “We would be concerned about any further escalation of this conflict.”

The U.N. Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said on Tuesday that at least 62 children have been killed and 30 injured during fighting in Yemen over the past week.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Adler

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