UNESCO condemns Saudi strikes destroying 3,000-year-old heritage site in Sanaa

Six people are dead after the latest Saudi-led strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

June 12, 2015 15:19
1 minute read.
Sanaa Yemen

A worker searches through the rubble after Saudi-led strikes targeted the old city of Sanaa, Yemen. (photo credit: MOHAMMED HUWAIS/ AFP PHOTO)

A United Nations group condemned Saudi-led air strikes on Friday that killed six people in the Old City of Sanaa, Yemen. The strikes leveled parts of a 3,000-year-old site, considered "one of the world's oldest jewels" of Islamic culture.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization head Irina Bokova said air strikes are only going to worsen the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and called on all parties to "respect and protect" the cultural heritage in Yemen, according to AFP.

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"I am profoundly distressed by the loss of human lives as well as by the damage inflicted on one of the world's oldest jewels of Islamic urban landscape," Bokova said. "I am shocked by the images of these magnificent many-storied tower-houses and serene gardens reduced to rubble,"

The Old City, which UNESCO added to its World Heritage List in 1986, has been inhabited for nearly 3,000 years and has a high density of unique ochre and white, mud-brick, tower houses, labyrinthine souqs, mosques and bathhouses.

The strikes, which started in the early hours of the morning, destroyed five houses and damaged several other buildings.

Backed by Washington, the Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Iranian-allied Houthi rebels and allied army units since March 26 with the aim of restoring exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

According to Jeremy Hopkins, Deputy Representative of UNICEF, 20.4 million people are now estimated to be in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, of whom 9.3 million are children.

"The de facto blockade on Yemen's ports, though there is some easing, means fuel is not coming into the country, and since pumps are mechanized that means over 20 million people don't have access to safe water," he added.

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