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UNICEF: 115 children killed in Yemen hostilities

According to the UN agency for children, at least 115 minors have been killed in Yemen since the end of March. UNICEF also reports that children have been forcibly recruited into armed groups.

UNICEF, the UN body responsible for child welfare, has reported that at least 115 children have died in less than a month of fighting in Yemen.

"We believe that these are conservative figures," UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told reporters in Geneva, saying at least 64 of the children were the victims of airstrikes.

The figures for the period from March 26 to April 20 - since the start of

airstrikes by Saudi Arabia

- also showed that 172 children had been maimed in the violence.

According to UNICEF, 26 children had been killed by unexploded ordnance and mines, 19 by gunshot, three by shelling and three by "unverified causes relating to the conflict."

The UN agency also reported that at least 140 children had been recruited by armed groups since March 26. Julien Harneis, the agency's representative in Yemen, said on Friday that it was common for boys to become armed at a young age, adding that this had "dire consequences amid the spiraling conflict."

"Hundreds of thousands of children in Yemen ... continue to live in the most dangerous circumstances, many waking up scared in the middle of the night to the sounds of bombing and gunfire," Harneis said in a statement reported by the news agency AFP. "The number of child casualties shows clearly how devastating this conflict continues to be for the country's children," he said.

Food crisis looming

On Thursday, the World Health Organization reported that the overall death toll in Yemen had risen to more than 1,000 since March 19. The UN's human rights agency announced on Friday that at least 551 of the people who had died were civilians.

The UN's World Food Program warned Friday that some 12 million people in Yemen did not know where their next meal would come from. The agency said it was delivering food for more than 100,000 people sheltered around the southern port city of Aden.

Yemen's health care system is reported to be

on the brink of collapse

, with a growing number of people injured in the conflict between Shiite Houthi rebels and loyalist forces.

rc/mkg (AFP, LUSA, EFE)

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