Updated Jan 21, 2022 - World

Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen kill dozens and knock out internet

This photo provided by Ansar Allah Media Office, a man is rescued early Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, after Saudi-led airstrikes targeted a site in the contested city of Hodeida

A man is rescued early Friday after airstrikes on a site in Hodeida, Yemen. Photo: Ansar Allah Media Office via AP

Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen on Friday killed dozens, including children, and knocked out the internet in the country, according to humanitarian groups.

Driving the news: The Saudi-led coalition has ramped up air raids in Yemen after Houthi rebels claimed an attack that killed at least three people in Abu Dhabi earlier this week.

The big picture: An airstrike on a Houthi-run detention center in Saada in northwestern Yemen on Friday killed at least 70 people, according to Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF), citing hospital officials.

  • The International Red Cross told AP that at least 100 detainees at the prison had been killed. Dozens more have been injured. According to aid groups, migrants were among those being held at the detention facility.
  • The international humanitarian organizations said they feared the death toll would continue to mount.
  • "From what I hear from my colleague in Sa’ada there are many bodies still at the scene of the air strike, many missing people. It is impossible to know how many people have been killed. It seems to have been a horrific act of violence," Ahmed Mahat, MSF head of mission in Yemen, said in a statement posted on Twitter.

A separate strike earlier Friday hit the port town of Hodeida, according to Save the Children and media reports.

The Saudi-led coalition claimed responsibility for the strike in Hodeida but did not immediately comment on the attack in Saada, per Al Jazeera.

  • It also said it conducted dozens of operations against Houthi rebels in Marib province in the last 24 hours, per the Washington Post.
  • The Saudi coalition has waged an aerial campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015.
  • The conflict has become what human rights groups describe as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The U.S. "calls on all parties to the conflict to de-escalate, abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, and participate fully in an inclusive UN-led peace process," per a statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken Friday evening.

  • "They must commit to a peaceful, diplomatic solution to ending the conflict and advance a durable resolution that improves the lives of Yemenis and allows them to collectively determine their own future."

What they're saying: Aid groups denounced the attacks and called on all sides to spare civilian life and essential infrastructure.

  • "It is essential that we protect the lives of people in armed conflict. The human toll that we witness in Yemen is unacceptable," Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC's regional director for the Near and Middle East, said in a statement.
  • Save the Children's Gillian Moye said, "Yemen continues to be one of the most dangerous places to be a child today, and children are bearing the brunt of this crisis."
  • "They are being killed and maimed, watching as their schools and hospitals are being destroyed, and denied access to basic lifesaving services. They are asking us: does it matter if I die?" added Moye, the group's Yemen director.
"The initial casualties report from Sada is horrifying. Migrants seeking better lives for themselves and their families, Yemeni civilians injured by the dozens, is a picture we never hoped to wake up to in Yemen."
— Gillian Moye, Save the Children

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