GENEVA (Reuters) – African migrants were among at least 20 civilians killed this week in two attacks on a market in northern Yemen where migrants are known to congregate as they make their way to wealthy Gulf states in search of a better life, the United Nations said.
The U.N. statement, issued on Thursday, did not specify the type of attacks on Al-Raqw market in Saada province, near the Saudi border, or say who was responsible, but said many of those killed or wounded were Ethiopians.
A Saudi-led military coalition has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen for nearly five years in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed millions to the brink of famine.
An aid worker told Reuters there had been an air strike on the market on Nov. 20, followed a week later by artillery shelling. Many migrants pass by the market as they try to reach neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The U.N. statement said the first attack had killed 10 people and that a similar incident a week later killed 10 and injured 22, including four children.
“With each day, the cost of this war becomes more unbearable,” Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said in the statement.
Thousands of migrants arrive in Yemen every year, mostly from the Horn of Africa, driven by drought and unemployment at home and lured by the wages available in Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf Arab states.
The Houthis, who ousted Yemen’s internationally recognised government from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014, hold most big urban centres in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.