The UN Children’s Fund reports that 10,000 children in Yemen have been killed or maimed since conflict erupted between the Saudi Arabian government-backed and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in March 2015.
UNICEF calls this a “shameful event”. It says that since the beginning of the war, four children caught up in the fighting have been killed or maimed every day. While the figure of 10,000 deaths and injuries is a lot, the children’s agency claims the figure is much higher.
UNICEF spokesman James Elder said that this final count only lists cases confirmed by the United Nations. He said many other childhood deaths and injuries went unreported.
As high as those numbers are, he says, far more children die from indirect, preventable causes than from the fighting itself. He said children are at risk of death or serious illness from diseases such as cholera and measles, as well as severe malnutrition and hunger.
“Every 10 minutes a child dies from something preventable in Yemen. And this is definitely a number that, unfortunately, has not changed over the past couple of years … Yemen is the most difficult place in the world for a child. Incredibly, the situation is getting worse, ”said the spokesman.
An elder who has just returned from a mission in Yemen said that children are exposed to many dangers. He said that four out of five children, or over 11 million children, are in need of humanitarian assistance. According to him, 400,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition and millions of children do not have access to clean drinking water. He said that more than two million children are out of school.
A UNICEF spokesman said Yemen’s economy is collapsing and people are trying to survive.
“But these people simply have no options. They sell their jewelry. They sell their pots. They do this to feed their own children. The bottom line is that children in Yemen are starving because adults continue to fight the war in which children lose the most, ”Elder said.
UNICEF says it urgently needs more than $ 235 million to continue rescue efforts in Yemen until mid-2022. If not, he warns that he will be forced to cut or stop providing life-saving care to vulnerable children.
This means that therapeutic feeding for thousands of severely malnourished children will be reduced or stopped.
UNICEF says this will affect other life-saving measures as well. If money runs out, it is said that survivors of this brutal war may no longer have access to safe drinking water, COVID-19 vaccination programs, psychological support to help people cope with trauma, and other essential aids.