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Children 'brunt' of Yemen's war

August 19, 2015

UNICEF says Yemen's conflict has claimed the lives of at least 400 children since March and left a further 600 children wounded. Promised aid is still failing to reach many of Yemen's 10 million children.

Jemen Kinder Hunger
Image: Reuters/K. Abdullah

The UN children's agency said months of battle between Shiite Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition has left services for children "decimated," and half a million pregnant women at higher risk of complications.

A quarter of Yemen's health facilities - around 900 - have closed since March. Centers that remain open face shortages of medical supplies.

Since late March, a Saudi-led Arab coalition has been bombarding the Iranian-allied Houthi rebel movement from northern Yemen in a bid to reinstate exiled President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

UNICEF's report says a four-year-old boy, Abdul, was killed by a sniper. Another youngster, 7-year-old Nada, described the killing and said: "I do not want to die like him."

Disease and malnutrition

Children are "bearing the brunt of a brutal armed conflict," UNICEF said, adding that about 10 million - or a half of Yemen's population - face growing risks of disease and malnutrition.

The report said that as of last Friday 377 other children have been recruited to fight so far in 2015 as the warring sides increasingly use teenage boys to swell their ranks.

Earlier this week, Amnesty International called on the UN to create a commission of inquiry to investigate alleged war crimes on both sides.

Pledged aid still awaited

UNICEF spokesman Rajat Madhok told Associated Press that months ago Saudi Arabia had pledged hundreds of millions worth of humanitarian funding, but that the agency had not received any money amid continued discussions over terms.

Tight restrictions imposed by the coalition on air and sea transport remain in place. Yemen's exiled government accuses the Houthis of hijacking aid.

Yemen's population relies largely on imported supplies. UN-brokered attempts to organize humanitarian pauses to bring in aid have failed.

Aden recaptured

Forces loyal to Hadi and backed by the Saudi-led coalition recaptured Yemen's main southern port city of Aden in mid-July.

Jemen Saudi-Arabische Truppen
The Saudi-led coalition has sent tanks to loyalists in AdenImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Military sources say the coalition has provided Hadi's supporters with modern heavy equipment, including tanks and armoured personnel carriers, and Yemeni soldiers trained in Saudi Arabia.

Last week, a Saudi military plane touched down at the port city's repaired international airport, carrying 25 tonnes of medical supplies, according to the news agency AFP.

Thousands killed, 100,000 flee

The Houthis descended from their northern stronghold last year and seized the capital Sanaa unopposed, complaining that they had been marginalized. In March, they advanced on Aden, forcing Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The UN says the war has killed nearly 4,000 people, half of them civilians.

Nearly 100,000 Yemenis have fled abroad since late March, the UN refugee agency says.

ipj/jil (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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