Brutal war in Yemen kills dozens of children weekly

At least 934 children killed by year-old Yemeni war, millions more under risk of being killed in war, there is lack of health care, clean water and food, says UN Children’s agency

Photo by: UNICEF
Photo by: UNICEF

Yemeni child in a displaced people's camp in Sana'a.

Updated Mar 30, 2016

The brutal conflict and the living situation in Yemen claims the lives of at least six children on a daily basis in the country, which imposes the risk of bringing the country's state from "fragile" to "failed" a UNICEF report released on Tuesday warned. 

The 16-page report titled “Yemen: Fragile to Failed?” said that Yemeni children were on the brink as a result of violence and a year of conflict that gripped most of the country. 

During the years-long war that began on March 15, 2015, Yemen saw a sevenfold increase in the number of children killed in the war, when compared with the whole of 2014, the children's agency said. It added that all sides of the war forced children, as young as 10, to become child soldiers. There were 848 documented cases of child soldiers throughout the year of the war in Yemen that was reason for the death of over 6, 200 people. 

Tuesday’s report also noted that at least 1,560 children were exposed to grave rights violations, 378,000 of them were without education and 7.4 percent of them were in need of health care.

UNICEF Yemen Representative Julien Harneis expressed his concerns in the report saying that children were paying the highest price for a conflict they have nothing to do with. 

“They have been killed or maimed and those who survive risk losing their lives. Children are not safe anywhere in Yemen. Even playing or sleeping has become dangerous,” he said.

"On average, at least six children have been killed or injured every day," said the report. UNICEF has confirmed that 934 children have been  killed and 1,356 injured, but says they are "only a tip of the iceberg" even though tensions seemed to have eased between Iran-backed Houthis, who control most of northern Yemen, and Saudi-led forces.

This is in addition to the nearly 50,000 children who die every year in Yemen before their fifth birthday.

“Basic services and infrastructure in Yemen are on the verge of total collapse” the organisation said noting the 52 attacks on schools, 63 attacks on health facilities and sanitation system, also the severe shortages in medical equipment, supplies and personnel, along with sporadic electricity.

UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Dr Peter Salama said the attacks that have harmed civilians are unacceptable under any circumstance.

“Nothing justifies attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, a pattern replicated in conflicts across the region and in blatant violation of International Humanitarian Law,” he stated in the press release of UNICEF.

"The scale of suffering in the country is staggering," Tuesday's report said, providing heart-wrenching testimony from children caught up in the violence.

A 13-year old Yemeni child who is trapped in Aden with his family shared his fears regarding his and his family’s future, as he said he was scared that all of them will die in the dark basement they have been hiding.

"Everything around me is frightening. My mother's sad face and tears are what torture me the most," he said.

The agency said the only way of ending the war hurting millions in Yemen is for all parties of the war to abide by the laws of war and immediately stop attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools, health and water facilities.

All parties should put an end to the use of child soldiers, the report added while underlining the necessity of all parties providing unhindered and unconditional humanitarian access to all children. 

TRTWorld and agencies