UN meets amid growing alarm over the rising civilian death toll in Yemen
The UN Security Council will meet Saturday to discuss a Russian proposal for humanitarian pauses in the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, diplomats said.
Russia called for the meeting of the 15-member council amid growing alarm over the rising civilian death toll from the fighting in Yemen.
UN aid chief Valerie Amos said Thursday she was "extremely concerned" about the fate of civilians trapped in fierce fighting after aid agencies reported that 519 people had been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in two weeks.
The UN children's agency this week said at least 62 children had been killed and 30 injured over the past week in Yemen, and that more of them were being recruited as child soldiers.
Alexey Zaytsev, spokesman for the Russian mission at the United Nations, said the closed-door consultations would be about "possible humanitarian pauses in air strikes." The meeting is scheduled for 1500 GMT.
Violence has sharply escalated in Yemen following a Saudi-led air campaign launched on March 26 to stop an advance by Shiite Huthi rebels that forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has said that the country was "on the verge of total collapse."
Aid groups have raised alarm over civilian casualties following an air strike on a camp for displaced people and the bombing of a dairy. Dozens were killed in both attacks.
The United Nations is backing Hadi as Yemen's legitimate leader in the face of the Huthi uprising that has plunged the poor Arab state deeper into chaos.
The Huothis seized power in the capital Sanaa in February and last month advanced on the port city of Aden, Hadi's stronghold, forcing him to go into exile.
Saudi-led air strikes on Friday pushed back the Huothis, which Riyadh maintains are backed by Iran.
Russia's request to halt the air strikes came as Gulf countries were pushing for a UN resolution that would impose an arms embargo and sanctions on the Huothis.
But the draft text came up against strong opposition from Russia, which proposed amendments to apply the arms embargo to the entire country and to limit sanctions.
The UN's peace envoy for Yemen, Jamal Benomar, flew to New York this week for meetings amid reports that Gulf countries were demanding that he be replaced.