Over 11,000 children have been killed or maimed in the war in Yemen, according to a new report by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an average of four children hurt a day since fighting escalated following the 2015 Saudi-led intervention in the conflict.
However the figures are thought to be much higher, UNICEF warned, with only UN-verified incidents recorded.
“Thousands of children have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands more remain at risk of death from preventable disease or starvation,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.
Russell was in the war-torn country last week where she launched UNICEF’s $10.3 billion Humanitarian Action for Children Appeal, which aims to provide water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services to children across the world, affected by conflict and disasters.
The agency chief also called on the warring sides to renew the UN-brokered truce, which was announced in April and expired on 2 October without an agreement to extend it. While both sides have blamed the other for failure of a lasting ceasefire, the spokesperson for the Houthi movement, Mohammed Abdul-Salam said that “Peace in Yemen is not possible unless the invading countries abandon their arrogant mentality.”
“The urgent renewal of the truce would be a positive first step that would allow critical humanitarian access,” Russell said.
“Ultimately, only a sustained peace will allow families to rebuild their shattered lives and begin to plan for the future.”
UNICEF estimates that 2.2 million youngsters are acutely malnourished, including close to 540,000 under-fives who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by the UN, nearly three-quarters of Yemen’s population is said to be in need of humanitarian aid and protection.
UNICEF is seeking nearly $484.5 million to respond to the crisis in Yemen over the next year and has warned that lack of predictable funding puts children’s lives and well-being at further risk.