The United Nations’ children’s agency says the war in Yemen continues to take a “horrific toll” on children despite a partial ceasefire between the parties to the conflict.
UNICEF released a statement on Saturday, three days after violence killed five children in the Tahita District in the western province of Hudaydah, which has been subject to a ceasefire.
The body’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore said, “In Yemen, children can no longer safely do the things that all children love to do, like go to school or spend time with their friends outside. The war can reach them wherever they are, even in their own homes.”
“Each day, eight children are killed or injured across 31 active conflict zones in the country,” she said, adding that “talks and conferences have so far done little to change the reality for children on the ground.”
“Only a comprehensive peace agreement can give Yemeni children the reprieve from violence and war that they need and deserve,” she said.
An agreement on a ceasefire in Hudaydah was reached in Sweden late last year between Yemen’s Saudi Arabian-backed former regime and the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies have been waging a war on Yemen for the past five years to restore the former regime, which resigned and fled the country amid popular discontent.
The World Health Organization says some 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition launched the war, but rights groups put the death toll at five times higher.
The Saudi-led invaders have also blockaded Yemen, causing widespread famine. On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said tens of thousands of children under the age of five had died of starvation ever since the warfare started.
The UN chief says over 80,000 kids under the age of five have died of starvation in Yemen ever since the Saudi-led aggression on the country began in March 2015.
“Children did not start the war in Yemen, but they are paying the highest price,” Guterres said. “Some 360,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, fighting for their lives every day. And one credible report put the number of children under 5 who have died of starvation at more than 80,000.”
And last Monday, Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said that the “mind-boggling violence” in Yemen had affected every child in the country one way or another.