UN agency says at least 74 children killed in Yemen fighting
Saudi-led coalition jets bombed a military installation in southern Yemen Tuesday as local tribes battled with forces loyal to the Shiite rebels in the area, forcing them out and seizing their makeshift camp and weapons, military officials said.
The fighting in Ibb comes as the U.N. children’s welfare agency warned that more than 100,000 people have fled their homes in different provinces in Yemen seeking safety from the violence. According to UNICEF, at least 74 children have also been killed since the fighting between Yemeni rivals intensified and the coalition airstrike campaign began two weeks ago.
A medical volunteer in the Maytam district in southern Ibb province said the airstrike on a Republican Guards camp left at least 25 military men wounded. The military unit is loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied with the Shiite rebels in their bid to grab power in Yemen.
Residents say the camp was close to a school. The rebel television station, known as al-Masirah, said three children were killed in the airstrike. The medical volunteer, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, could not verify the deaths.
About 50 kilometers ( 30 miles) south of the camp, local tribes battled with rebel fighters who had set up a makeshift camp in the area, driving the rebels away and seizing their weapons, a local resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Civilians have paid a heavy toll for the violence that mushroomed from an internal power struggle into a regional war drawing in neighboring Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Children have been especially vulnerable, said UNICEF’s Yemen representative, Julien Harneis.
“They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted,” Harneis said in a statement, released Monday in Amman, Jordan. Warring factions have also increased their recruitment of children under the age of 18.
The agency said at least 74 children have been killed and 44 wounded since March 26, when the Saudi-led air campaign began.
Last week, the U.N. said more than 500 civilians have been killed in the last two weeks. Comprehensive casualty figures are difficult to collect and verify because of the ongoing violence.
In this Saturday, April 4 file photo, Yemenis stand amid the rubble of houses destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in a village near Sanaa, Yemen.