UN says civilian casualties in Yemen average 123 per week
The United Nations' refugee agency said Friday that there have been nearly 1,500 civilian casualties in Yemen from August through October, the latest grim tally to emerge from a four-year civil war as opposing parties hold talks in Sweden.
UNHCR urged the two sides to do more to protect civilians, saying data from Yemen shows an average of 123 civilian killed and wounded every week during the three-month period, in a war that has killed at least 16,000 civilians.
Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the internationally recognized government, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, are meeting in Sweden for U.N.-sponsored talks aimed at halting the bloodshed.
On Friday, at the venue in a castle in the town of Rimbo, north of Stockholm, U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths and various delegates from Yemen were seen walking on the grounds.
The talks opened Thursday on an upbeat note, with the warring sides agreeing to a broad prisoner swap, boosting hopes that the talks would not deteriorate into further violence as in the past.
Yemen's conflict, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine, pits the internationally recognized government against Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who took the capital of Sanaa in 2014. The Saudis intervened the following year.
U.N. officials have sought to downplay expectations from the talks, saying they don't foresee rapid progress toward a political settlement but hope for at least minor steps that would help to address Yemen's worsening humanitarian crisis and prepare a framework for further negotiations.
UNHCR says of the 1,478 civilian casualties, 33 percent were women and children. That's a total of 217 women and children killed and 268 wounded.