Ye­men con­flict killed nearly 400 chil­dren: UN

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY CARA ANNA

The con­flict in Ye­men has killed nearly 400 chil­dren since the end of March, and a sim­i­lar num­ber of chil­dren have been re­cruited by armed groups, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by the U.N. chil­dren’s agency. It warns that the fight­ing shows “no sign of a res­o­lu­tion.”

This is UNICEF’s first such alert on Ye­men, where a Saudi- led coali­tion has been fight­ing Shi­ite Houthi rebels since late March. Mil­lions have been trapped in the con­flict, and aid groups have warned that many peo­ple are on the brink of star­va­tion.

“Ba­sic ser­vices that chil­dren de­pend on have been dec­i­mated,” UNICEF says.

Its re­port says that as of a week ago, 398 chil­dren have been killed, 377 have been re­cruited to fight and 1.3 mil­lion have fled their homes. The re­port says the death toll could be much higher. Over­all, the U.N. hu­man rights of­fice said Tues­day, at least 1,950 civil­ians have been killed in the fight­ing as of Fri­day.

“Ab­dul was 4 years old, and he was killed by a sniper,” the re­port quotes one lo­cal child, 7-year-old Nada Nus­sir as say­ing. “I do not want to die like him.”

Hu­man rights groups have ex­pressed con­cern that both sides are vi­o­lat­ing the laws of war and not do­ing enough to pro­tect civil­ians. Amnesty In­ter­na­tional this week called on the U.N. to cre­ate a com­mis­sion of in­quiry to in­ves­ti­gate al­leged war crimes.

The U.N. and aid groups have called re­peat­edly for ways to get food, fuel, medicine and other sup­plies into Ye­men, but tight re­stric­tions im­posed by the coali­tion on air and sea trans­port re­main in place, while Ye­men’s ex­iled gov- ern­ment ac­cuses the Houthis hi­jack­ing aid.

Ye­men is the poor­est coun­try in the Arab world, and its pop­u­la­tion re­lies on im­ports for about 90 per­cent of its sup­plies. At­tempts at U. N.- bro­kered hu­man­i­tar­ian pauses to bring in aid have failed.

The new UNICEF re­port says about 10 mil­lion chil­dren, or half of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion, need ur­gent hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance.

It also says more than half a mil­lion preg­nant women in Ye­men’s hard­est-hit ar­eas are at higher risk for birth or preg­nancy com­pli­ca­tions be­cause they can’t get to

of med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties.

Saudi Ara­bia months ago pledged to fully fund a US$274 mil­lion emer­gency U.N. ap­peal for Ye­men, but a UNICEF spokesman, Ra­jat Mad­hok, on Tues­day told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the agency has not re­ceived any money from the ap­peal. Dis­cus­sions be­tween the king­dom and the world body on the terms of the fund­ing have long de­layed the money.

AP

In this April 26 file photo, a man car­ries a boy who was in­jured dur­ing a cross­fire be­tween tribal fight­ers and Shi­ite mili­tia known as Houthis, in Taiz, Ye­men.

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