Six Children Killed, Maimed Daily in Yemen since Saudi Airstrikes Began: UN
Six children were killed or maimed daily in Yemen since Saudi-led airstrikes began a year ago, the UN said Tuesday, warning the conflict was taking a horrifying toll on the country’s youth.
In a report marking the anniversary of the start of the Saudi-led campaign, the UN children’s agency said nearly a third of the more than 3,000 civilians killed in Yemen were children.
“Children are not safe anywhere in Yemen. Even playing or sleeping has become dangerous,” UNICEF representative in Yemen Julien Harneis told AFP in an email.
The Saudi-led intervention in support of fugitive ex-President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi began on March 26 last year, but Houthis still control Sana’a and key parts of the country.
The UN estimates 82 percent of the population is now in desperate need of humanitarian aid, with 320,000 children considered severely malnourished.
“The scale of suffering in the country is staggering,” Tuesday’s report said, providing heart-wrenching testimony from children caught up in the violence.
“Everything around me is frightening. My mother’s sad face and tears are what torture me the most,” said 13-year-old Abdullah Nawar, who is trapped with his family in Aden.
“I am scared that all of us will die in this dark basement,” he added.
In addition to the thousands of children who have been direct victims of the violence and “hurt in the most extreme and cruel ways”, Tuesday’s report showed even more were suffering the secondary effects of the fighting.
“Basic services and infrastructure in Yemen are on the verge of total collapse,” it said.
UNICEF estimates that close to 10,000 children under five may have died over the past year alone from preventable diseases as a result of the decline in access to vaccines and other key health services.
This comes on top of the nearly 50,000 children who die every year in Yemen before their fifth birthday, the agency said.
The UN says 63 healthcare facilities have been attacked over the past year and three have been occupied for military purposes.
Children, desperate for a sense of normalcy amid the physical and emotional violence they are experiencing, are also often cut off from attending school, which provides a compass point.
There had been more than 50 direct attacks on schools and teachers, and some 50 schools have been occupied by fighters, UNICEF said.
More than 1,600 schools meanwhile remain closed due to insecurity, infrastructure damage or because they are being used to house some of the some 2.4 million people who have been displaced by the conflict.