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The United Nations on Wednesday demanded media access to report on the "man-made catastrophe" in Yemen after a Saudi Arabia-led coalition blocked three foreign journalists from traveling on a U.N. aid flight to the Houthi rebel-controlled capital Sanaa.

The officials said the toll is expected to rise, with several women and children in critical condition.

"The incident was reported on Tuesday afternoon and the number of civilian casualties are still being verified with initial reports pointing to at least 20 deaths", the agency said in statement.

Saudi Arabia leads a pro-government military coalition which is fighting Iran-backed Huthi rebels for control of the impoverished country. "Injuries have also been reported with a number also taken to nearby hospitals for treatment".

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

The civilians killed in the attack were refugees fleeing embattled Mawza district in Taiz governorate aboard a packed vehicle and were understood to be from the same family, UNHCR said.

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The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced three million since the coalition intervened in 2015.

"It also illustrates the difficulties in the delivery of humanitarian protection and assistance in Yemen..."

Two million people are internally displaced in Yemen, many within their own governorates. Their bombings have included targeting schools, hospitals and private homes.

"If there is no accountability, if groups that are fighting think they can use their political influence - and if they're powerful enough and rich enough, then they can get away with killing and injuring children, or bombing schools and hospitals - it sets a really risky precedent not just for Yemen but for conflicts around the world", Anning said.

US-based humanitarian agency CARE International said its Secretary-General Wolfgang Jamann was scheduled to fly to Sanaa for a first-hand look at a cholera outbreak that has killed almost 1,800 people since April.