UN discusses crisis in Yemen

Security Council meeting comes as four reported killed and hundreds wounded in crackdown on anti-government protests.

Security forces in Yemen have killed at least four people and wounded hundreds more after opening fire on demonstrations in the capital Sanaa and the town of Taiz, as the UN meets to discuss the crisis.

In Sanaa, three people were reportedly killed and nearly 100 wounded on Tuesday when riot police stopped protesters marching towards the capital’s main Zubeiri street.


Protesters threw stones at riot police and set fire to a security vehicle, witnesses said.

An Al Jazeera producer reported that four female doctors who had been helping to treat injured protesters were taken away by security forces.

Tariq Numan, a doctor working at a field hospital outside Sanaa university, told Al Jazeera that “hundreds of injured people” were being treated at his facility following the violence.

He said that many had “severe injures” that appeared to have been caused by gunfire.

“We are still receiving now from the streets tens more injured people,” he said, adding that the facility was being overwhelmed by the number of casualties.

“The number is more than our abilities to cope [with],” he said.

In Taiz, south of the capital, at least one person was shot dead and another wounded after police opened fire when protesters burned tyres in the street.

Organisers of the Taiz protest said four people, including a newspaper photographer, had been arrested.

Pro-democracy protesters have been demanding for two months the resignation of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president since 1978.

Growing concern

The violence on Tuesday comes as the UN Security Council met to discuss the crisis in Yemen for the first time.

Kristen Saloomy, Al Jazeera’s correspondent at the UN, said the Security Council would receive a briefing about the escalating violence in Yemen.

She said: “The Germans called for this meeting and the fact that it is taking part shows a growing concern on the part of the council.”

Germany’s UN envoy said that the talks should be a strong signal to the country’s president that bloodshed must avoided.

“The fact that the council meets today on Yemen sends an important signal by the international community: the negotiations should not stall and further bloodshed has to be avoided,” Peter Wittig, Germany’s UN ambassador, said.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said Yemen’s opposition should be careful not to hold back from talks in the hope of getting foreign help to topple the government.

“That is a very dangerous logic which can cause a chain reaction,” he said, speaking during a visit to Serbia.

“All those responsible, particularly members of the UN Security Council, must not opt for conflicts but for dialogue.”

The UN children’s fund said on Tuesday that 26 children have been killed during violent protests in Yemen over the last two months.

Marixie Mercado, a UNICEF spokeswoman, said that most of the children killed in clashes between security forces and anti-government demonstrators died of wounds from live ammunition.

“It is a sign of the growing attention that Yemen is attracting after Egypt, Tunisia and Libya,” said a UN diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity, in reference to other protest-hit Arab states.

A Yemeni government delegation arrived in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for talks with the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) on its proposal for Saleh to transfer power to his deputy and end the crisis.

Opposition representatives held similar talks on Sunday in Saudi Arabia.

(english.aljazeera.net / 19.04.2011)

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