Children paying intolerable price for the conflict in Yemen

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Yemen School

08 April 2015 - Trond Jensen, Head of OCHA’s Office in Yemen, appealed yesterday to all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international law in order to reverse a situation which is becoming ‘catastrophic’. “I am extremely concerned for the safety of civilians caught in the middle of fierce fighting in Yemen,” he said.

Latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), state that 560 people have been killed and 1,768 injured by violence between 19 March and 4 April - which is less than one month. These numbers include at least 210 civilian deaths and 500 civilian injuries.

Children require special respect and protection 

The casualties include at least 74 children who have been killed over the past 12 days. These are conservative figures and UNICEF believes that the total number of children killed is much higher, as the conflict has intensified over the past week.

“Children are paying an intolerable price for this conflict,” said UNICEF Yemen Representative, Julien Harneis speaking from the Jordanian capital Amman. “They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted. These children should be immediately afforded special respect and protection by all parties to the conflict, in line with international humanitarian law.”

The situation for young children in Yemen is already very precarious with acute malnutrition widespread in one of the region’s poorest countries.

Unfettered humanitarian access needed

 A plane carrying humanitarian staff landed yesterday in the capital, Sana’a, and two more planes carrying medical supplies are expected later this week.

Wherever security conditions permit, UNICEF teams are working with partners to provide families with safe water and essential health services.

Trond Jensen yesterday called for unfettered humanitarian access, so that urgently needed supplies can be brought in. This year, humanitarian partners estimate that about 15.9 million people – 61 per cent of the population – will require humanitarian assistance, a number that is expected to increase if violence continues to escalate.

The humanitarian community is currently seeking $747.5 million to provide a range of life-saving, protection and resilience services for 8.2 million people.

The situation in Yemen has been rapidly deteriorating since the country formed a new Government in November 2014 aimed at ending a period of political turbulence and bringing about a full transition towards democracy.