SANAA - As heavy shelling and street fighting continued in Taiz, the United Nations called on all factions on Tuesday, December 6, to stop attacks on civilians, urging the government to allow access for aid supplies and human rights monitors, Reuters reported.
"We condemn continuing attacks on civilians particularly in Taiz where we are seeing reports that 22 people have been killed in shooting and shelling since Thursday last week (December 1), including two children," Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, told a news briefing.
The issued statements were coordinated by the UN human rights office, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Yemen Humanitarian Coordinator.
The three international bodies voiced concern about the deteriorating situation despite the signing of a peace deal nearly two weeks ago.
"The continued use of disproportionate force by part of the government security forces despite commitments made to investigate serious human rights violations is extremely disappointing," Shamdasani said.
"The killings must stop immediately and we urge all sides to halt the use of violent force."
Hundreds of people have been killed nationwide since an uprising began against Saleh's 33-year-long rule in late January.
On November 23, Saleh signed a Gulf-brokered and UN-backed transfer deal to transfer power to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, in return for immunity from prosecution.
Anti-Saleh tribesmen brandishing Kalashnikov rifles and members of the Republican Guard, led by Saleh's son Ahmed, were still on many of Taiz's streets, witnesses said.
UNICEF said that its figures showed that 3 children had been killed and 7 injured in the latest round of violence in Taiz, some 200 km south of the capital Sanaa.
"That brings the total number of children killed so far to 138, the majority through live ammunition. This includes bullets, shelling and missile attacks," UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said, adding that 568 children had been wounded to date.
"Our youngest victim thus far was 3 months old, killed in Taiz on the first of December," she told reporters in Geneva.
The heavy shelling forced many residents to flee their homes in Taiz as basic elements of life and safety were evaporating in the torn city.
"Access to basic social services is increasingly limited and schools and hospitals have been occupied or come under attack by armed forces and armed groups," depriving more than 100,000 children of access to schooling or health care, the Yemen Humanitarian Country Team that links UN and other aid agencies said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
"We call upon all armed actors involved in the conflict in Taiz to ensure the safety and protection of all civilians in accordance with universally recognized principles of human rights and international humanitarian law," said Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.
Meanwhile, opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan accused "Saleh and his sons" of orchestrating the violence in Taiz.
The developments came as prime minister-designate Mohammed Basindawa was expected to announce a national unity government this week.
"There are no problems regarding the government. It will be formed today or tomorrow," Qahtan said on Tuesday.
"Both sides have agreed not to propose provocative names to take part in the government," said Qahtan, adding that he himself was "a provocative name."