War-torn Ye­men ‘liv­ing hell’ for chil­dren: UN

Tehran Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Con­flict-rav­aged Ye­men has be­come a “liv­ing hell” for chil­dren with thou­sands dy­ing ev­ery year from mal­nu­tri­tion and eas­ily pre­ventable dis­eases, a top UN of­fi­cial said Sun­day.

Geert Cap­pelaere, re­gional di­rec­tor for the Mid­dle East and North Africa at UN chil­dren’s agency UNICEF, called on the war­ring par­ties to join pro­posed peace talks later this month and agree to a cease­fire.

“Ye­men is to­day a liv­ing hell – not for 50 to 60 per­cent of the chil­dren – it is a liv­ing hell for ev­ery boy and girl in Ye­men,” he told a news con­fer­ence in the Jor­da­nian cap­i­tal.

Ac­cord­ing to UNICEF, 1.8 mil­lion Ye­meni chil­dren un­der the age of five suf­fer from acute mal­nu­tri­tion, and the lives of 400,000 se­verely af­fected chil­dren are un­der threat.

Cap­pelaere said that 30,000 chil­dren die of mal­nu­tri­tion each year in Ye­men, while a child dies ev­ery 10 min­utes from eas­ily pre­ventable dis­eases.

He said the fig­ures were “a re­minder for all of us to re­al­ize how dire the sit­u­a­tion has be­come.”

“We call on all par­ties to get to­gether later this month un­der the lead­er­ship of the UN spe­cial en­voy... and agree on a cease­fire and a road to peace for Ye­men,” he added.

The ap­peal came as fight­ing in­ten­si­fied in the key rebel-held Red Sea port city of Hu­daida, de­spite grow­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to end a con­flict that has left the coun­try on the brink of famine.

The port is the en­try point for more than 70 per­cent of im­ports into the im­pov­er­ished coun­try.

The Arab coali­tion in­ter­vened in the war in 2015 to bol­ster Ye­meni Pres­i­dent Abed Rab­bou Man­sour Hadi af­ter the Houthi rebels took over the cap­i­tal Sanaa.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, nearly 10,000 peo­ple have since been killed. Some rights groups es­ti­mate the toll could be five times higher.

Ye­meni forces foil Saudi-led push to seize port be­fore talks

Mean­while, Ye­men’s armed forces have de­ci­sively coun­tered an all-out Saudi of­fen­sive, which was in the works for days to seize the coun­try’s strate­gic Red Sea port.

Ye­meni Armed Forces spokesman Bri­gadier Gen­eral Yahya Sa­ree said the army thwarted “all at­tempts by the en­emy to pen­e­trate and in­fil­trate the de­fenses” in the port city of Hu­day­dah.

The coun­ter­at­tacks killed 113 of the en­emy forces and in­jured 156 oth­ers, Ye­men’s al-Masirah tele­vi­sion net­work quoted him as say­ing on Satur­day.

Ear­lier this week, the Saudi-led coali­tion de­ployed some 10,000 forces as part of ef­forts to cap­ture the key port city, which is seen as the main en­try point for aid needed by mil­lions in the war-torn coun­try.

Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies have launched a mas­sive of­fen­sive to cap­ture Red Sea city of Hu­day­dah over the past sev­eral months.

But they have faced stiff re­sis­tance by Houthi fight­ers and lo­cal res­i­dents who have been de­fend­ing the Arab world’s poor­est na­tion against the Saudi-led in­va­sion which started more than three years ago.

Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions, at least 10,000 peo­ple have been killed since the Saudi-led war on Ye­men broke out in March 2015.

How­ever, a new re­port sug­gests that the real death toll is over five times higher than the UN fig­ure, which has not been up­dated since Au­gust 2016.

Ac­cord­ing to a count by a non­profit con­flict-re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion, 56,000 peo­ple have lost their lives in Ye­men since early 2016.

The num­ber does not in­clude those dy­ing of mal­nu­tri­tion, or dis­eases such as cholera.

The death toll is soar­ing by more than 2,000 ev­ery month as the Saudi-led coali­tion in­ten­si­fies mil­i­tary strikes on the Red Sea port of Hu­day­dah.

Saudi Ara­bia has in­ten­si­fied its ef­forts to cap­ture the strate­gic port even as its staunch ally, the United States, has called for an end to the ag­gres­sion.

Ear­lier this week, US Sec­re­tary of De­fense James Mat­tis called for a cease­fire in Ye­men and for all par­ties to come to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble within the next 30 days.

“We have got to move to­ward a peace ef­fort here, and we can’t say we are go­ing to do it some­time in the fu­ture,” he said dur­ing a dis­cus­sion at the United States In­sti­tute of Peace (USIP) in Wash­ing­ton.

The Saudis have been re­ceiv­ing arms and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port as well as bomb­ing co­or­di­nates and aerial re­fu­el­ing, mostly from the United States, but also from its close Euro­pean al­lies, the UK and France.

Chil­dren dy­ing as Hu­day­dah un­der siege

On Satur­day, the United Na­tions chil­dren agency (UNICEF) said ev­ery

10 min­utes, an un­der-five-year-old Ye­meni child died of pre­ventable dis­eases and se­vere mal­nu­tri­tion.

The chil­dren were dy­ing from star­va­tion and dis­ease as trucks with life-sav­ing sup­plies were blocked in Hu­day­dah -- which is un­der siege by Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies, said Geert Cap­pelaere, Mid­dle East di­rec­tor for UNICEF.

“Al­ready 1.8 mil­lion Ye­meni chil­dren are mal­nour­ished, and more than

400,000 of them suf­fer­ing from se­vere acute mal­nu­tri­tion,” Reuters quoted him as say­ing.

The of­fi­cial made the re­marks af­ter meet­ing with fam­i­lies in Hu­day­dah and Sana’a.

Ear­lier, me­dia re­ports showed that a seven-year-old se­verely mal­nour­ished Ye­meni girl, whose pic­ture re­cently fur­ther alerted the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to the dis­as­ter-hit na­tion’s plight, had died amid an on­go­ing Saudi-led war on the coun­try.

Amal Hus­sein’s pic­ture turned up in The New York Times last week, show­ing her ly­ing on a bed at a health cen­ter in As­lam in the north­west­ern Ye­men Ha­j­jah Prov­ince, 144 kilo­me­ters (90 miles) north­west of the cap­i­tal, Sana’a. Her mother, Mariam Ali, has told the pa­per that she died on Oc­to­ber 26.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iran

© PressReader. All rights reserved.