The war in Yemen has killed at least 10,000 people and injured 40,000, according to the U.N., whose Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was in the port city of Aden this week to urge government and rebel leaders to cease hostilities.
“The current political stalemate is causing death and destruction every day,” Ahmed said, according to a U.N. press statement released Monday. “The only way to stop this is through the renewal of the Cessation of Hostilities followed by consultations to develop a comprehensive agreement.”
“Yemen’s political elites have a responsibility to shield people from further harm, protect their country’s future and commit to a peaceful settlement,” he added.
The two-year conflict between Yemen’s government and the Houthi rebels escalated in March 2015 when Saudi Arabia intervened in support of the government. It has often been characterized — and sometimes oversimplified — as a proxy war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.
While the Houthi rebels have also been accused of committing human rights violations, most civilian casualties have been blamed on the Saudis, the Guardian reports. Western powers, including the U.S. and U.K., have been sharply criticized for providing weapons, logistical support and intelligence to Saudi Arabia.
The U.N. revised its estimated death toll from an earlier figure of 6,000 up to 10,000 people back in August. On Monday, the U.N.’s humanitarian aid official in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, confirmed the death toll of 10,000, saying it was derived from data collected by health facilities that have kept track of the victims of the war, according to the Associated Press, although the actual number could be much higher. It likely does not include most of combatants killed in the conflict.
U.N. officials also estimate that the war has displaced more than 3 million people with a further 19 million in need of humanitarian aid — 80% of the population.