UNHCR calls for respect for civilian life as rocket attack kills 12 refugees sheltering in Aden kindergarten

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is renewing its call for parties to the conflict in Yemen to respect civilian life following a weekend rocket attack on a kindergarten in Aden which left 12 refugees dead.

Late in the night of Saturday 4th July, a rocket blasted through the front of the Al Tadamon Kindergarten in Aden, penetrating several walls and killing twelve refugees: 11 Somalis and one Ethiopian, among them five children. A further 12 refugees were injured and remain in hospital. Several families were sleeping on the roof when the rocket hit, but were fortunately not harmed.

Earlier on Saturday, UNHCR's national partner, a Charitable Society for Social Welfare (CSSW) mobile medical team visited the Al Tadamon Kindergarten where 94 displaced urban refugees from Basateen (40 adults and 54 children) have sought refuge since May. The medical team conducted health assessments on the ten families, treating cases with skin infections and providing children with therapeutic feeding.

Medical field visits have become necessary as the CSSW-run Basateen Clinic was forced to close on 15 June after three projectiles destroyed the laboratory. Since then, a medical mobile team has been reaching displaced and refugee communities in Aden.

The Al Tadamon Kindergarten has been supported by UNHCR and run by national partner Solidarity Association for Development (SAD) since 2011. Since the closure of schools across the country at the end of May, all 12 rooms in the kindergarten have been hosting displaced refugee families. It was well known in the surrounding area that the Al Tadamon Kindergarten was used as a refuge for displaced families.

Thousands of urban refugees in Aden have been displaced into unfinished buildings, schools, Kharaz refugee camp or other cities across Yemen. Many have spontaneously returned to their home countries, undertaking the risky journey on their own, returning to insecurity. UNHCR condemns the attacks on civilians in Yemen.

Refugee and displaced families are amongst the most vulnerable in Yemen and UNHCR calls on all parties to the conflict to respect and protect these civilians' lives and rights. UNHCR continues to call for unfettered access and movements of humanitarian workers and its supplies so that vital assistance can reach those in need with life-saving aid.

Currently there are over 1 million internally displaced people in Yemen (1,019,762), approximately 250,000 refugees and an estimated over 21 million people in need throughout the country. Over 46,000 people, including Yemenis and refugees from third countries have fled Yemen, primarily for Djibouti and Somalia, since the conflict commenced in March. At the same time, and since the beginning of the year, some 35,000 individuals have arrived in Yemen by boat from across the Gulf of Aden.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Djibouti, Amira ABD EL-KHALEK on mobile +253 77 22 61 36
  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 9120
  • In Geneva, Andreas Needham on mobile +41 79 217 3140