The United Nations has warned of the increasing number of children killed in the Yemeni conflict, saying those who survive will form “a lost generation” as a result of the traumatic experiences of the crisis.
“Children are paying an unacceptable price, and the ever mounting death toll tragically underscores the need for urgent action to protect them and other civilians,” said United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui on Tuesday.
Yemen has become “another stark example of how conflict in the region risks creating a lost generation of children, who are physically and psychologically scarred by their experiences, deprived of educational opportunities, and who face an uncertain future,” she added.
The UN official also lashed out at the Saudi regime for targeting civilians in its 21 August airstrikes on the southwestern Yemeni province of Ta’izz, which claimed the lives of 65 civilians, including at least 17 children.
“Parties to conflict must abide by their international legal obligations to distinguish between civilian and military objects, and take precautions to avoid and minimize civilian casualties,” Zerrougui underscored.
She also voiced concern over the educational situation of children in the war-ravaged Arab state as the new school year is about to kick off.
“As the start of a new school year approaches, the conflict is severely curtailing children’s access to education,” Zerrougui warned.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 114 schools have been completely destroyed and 315 others partially damaged in Yemen since the beginning of Riyadh’s military campaign in late March. This is while some 360 schools have turned into refuges for the families who have fled their homes as a result of the deadly conflict.
On March 26, Saudi Arabia began its military aggression against Yemen – without a UN mandate – in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to the fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
The conflict has so far left about 4,500 people, including 402 children, dead and thousands of others wounded, the UN says.