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Airstrikes on Yemen IDP Camp Confirmed to ICP by UN, But No Comment

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 30 -- Amid continued airstrikes in Yemen, on March 30 came reports of an airstrike on an internally displaced persons camp in Haradh. Inner City Press immediately sought confirmation (and comment) from the UNHCR and the UN Spokesperson's Office. The latter responded four minutes before the day's noon briefing, below.

  At the March 30 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq if the UN had any comment on civilian casualties in the Saudi-led offensive on Yemen, and if Ban Ki-moon raised the issue at the Arab League summit.

  Haq said Ban had raised it. But what has been said publicly by the UN? Haq said the UN pulled 100 international staffers out of the country on Saturday but still has 13 internationals and 700 local staff and partners there.

 Inner City Press asked Haq if any of these 713 were in the Haradh camp. This, Haq did not answer.

  It was UNHCR which answered first, via its Spokesperson for Asia, Babar Baloch:

"Dear Matthew: Sadly, the reports are correct. Our team on the ground confirms the attack on Al Mazraq area in Hajjah that took place around 11.30am local time with unconfirmed reports of 15 to 20 deaths and as many injured. There are two IDP camps in the area that host some 1100 displaced families. We are not able to confirm how the attack happened, but remain concerned for the safety and security of the displaced."

  In front of the UN Security Council on the morning of March 30, questions were asked of entering Ambassadors - nearly all about Boko Haram. Inner City Press asked a spokesperson about the airstrike on IDPs in Yemen but news seemed not to have reached the Security Council.  Later, a Council member's spokesperson said they've heard of it but do not for now anticipate any meeting. Why not?

An hour later, still silence from Ban Ki-moon and the UN Office of the Spokesperson.  Finally, four minutes before the day's noon briefing, this from UN Spokesperson's Office:

"OCHA in Yemen says that its local partners report that airstrikes hit one of the IDP camps and the surrounding area in Hajjah and that there are reports of civilian casualties.  The United Nations and partners are working to verify this information."

  At the highest levels, the UN system is in a sense "all - in" with the Saudi military coalition, quiet on the fact that it includes Sudan and on civilian casualties.


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