Yemen air strikes
In December alone, at least 62 civilians were killed in Saudi-led air strikes Mohamed Al-Sayaghi/Reuters

The United Nations has voiced concern over the alleged use of cluster bombs by Saudi-led coalition forces in north-west Yemen, where numerous air strikes have been reported. UN investigators have reportedly discovered 29 cluster submunitions in al-Odair village in Haradh district, which lies in the northwestern region of the country.

At a press briefing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville said: "We have also received alarming information on the alleged use of cluster bombs by coalition forces in Hajjah Governorate." According to eyewitnesses, many villages in Haradh district have also been affected by the use of cluster bombs, he said. UN investigators have also reportedly found the use of cluster submunitions in several other districts, including Hairan and Bakel Al-Meer.

Civilian casualties

Colville noted the alarming number of non-combatant casualties in Yemen. At least 62 civilians were killed in Saudi-led air strikes in December and 29 were killed in November. On the other hand, Iran-backed Houthi rebels are reported to have killed at least 11 civilians in December and 32 others in November.

At least 18 civilians were killed when air strikes targeted a house in Wadi Kena, in Sa'ada, on 18 December. Six citizens died on 20 December when an area in Al Hudayhda city was targeted by Saudi-led air strikes. Moreover, around 11 air strikes reportedly targeted densely populated civilian areas of Sana'a on 3, 4 and 5 January.

The government and the rebels had agreed on a ceasefire and initiated peace talks on 15 December in Switzerland, but the talks came to an abrupt halt after clashes erupted between pro-government forces and Houthi rebels killing at least 40 rebels and 35 pro-government troops. The rebels have blamed the government for violating the ceasefire. According to reports, a new round of peace talks has been scheduled for 14 January at an unspecified location.

Beside the raging civil war in Yemen, terror groups such as Islamic State (Isis) and al-Qaeda have been trying to impose their will on the country. Recently, a curfew was imposed on the port city of Aden after clashes broke out between government forces and suspected IS (Daesh) terrorists at a seaport in Mualla district. At least 17 people, including nine security personnel, were killed in the fighting.

President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi's troops had moved in to recapture the port that had earlier been seized by militants. The government forces were able to take complete control of the region after a long battle with the militants.

Around 6,000 people have died since the civil war broke out in Yemen after the rebels captured the capital city of Sana'a in September 2014. At least 2,795 civilians have been killed since coalition forces launched an offensive against the rebels in March 2015.