An incident in Taez in which a young girl was shot as she fetched water for her family, allegedly by a Houthi sniper, on Monday (August 17th) has drawn outrage from Yemeni officials, civil society organisations and activists.
Following the incident in Taez's al-Rawda neighbourhood, Yemenis have called on the UN Human Rights Council to conduct urgent investigations into attacks on civilians.
The "water girl", who has been named as Ruwaida Saleh and is said to be 9 or 10 years old, was shot Monday as she went to fetch water for her family.
Photos circulated on social media show her small body lying in the median of a residential street, and show her brother attempting to rescue his injured sister.
Ruwaida, who was seriously wounded, is now receiving treatment at hospital.
The Co-ordinating Council of Civil Society Organisations in Taez condemned the incident.
Deputy Taez governor Abdul Qawi al-Mekhlafi called on the UN and international community to exert pressure on the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) to prevent them from targeting civilians.
“The humanitarian principles which are applicable in conflicts and wars, and which consider the targeting of civilians a war crime, must be adhered to,” al-Mekhlafi said Tuesday morning as he visited Ruwaida in hospital.
He urged the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council to conduct urgent investigations into the targeting of civilians and shelling of residential areas.
'Disregard for the blood of children'
Houthi snipers have targeted children and women in Taez before, rights activist Ahmed Hazza told Al-Mashareq.
“For six years now, the Houthis have been spilling children’s blood and mobilising their fighters against the children and women of Taez,” he said.
“The targeting of Ruwaida, who was just bringing water and not carrying weapons, is a crime revealing the brutality of the Iran-backed Houthis,” he said.
The Monday incident has sparked popular anger and condemnation because it shows the Houthis’ total disregard for the blood of innocent children, rights activist and writer Nabil al-Bakiri told Al-Mashareq.
“If the people had not been afraid of being targeted by the sniper themselves, they would have rushed to rescue her,” he said, noting that her brother returned to rescue her after hesitating, out of fear that he would face the same fate.