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Yemen: Children make up a quarter of civilian casualties

March 23, 2021

More than 2,300 children have been caught in the crossfire in Yemen over the past three years, according to Save the Children.

Two boys carrying a coffin of a child on their shoulders in Saada, Yemen
Boys carry a coffin of a child who died in Saudi-airstrikes that killed dozens of childrenImage: picture-alliance/Xinhua/M. Mohammed

For the last three years children have made-up one quarter of civilian casualties in Yemen's grinding war, said child relief agency Save the Children

"Yemeni children have been living through a horrific and endless nightmare for six years now. Children continue to be killed and injured on a near-daily basis," said the organization's Yemen country director, Xavier Joubert.

More than 2,300 children have been caught in the crossfire between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and the internationally recognized government from 2018 to 2020. However, the agency said that the real toll was likely much higher.


Three young boys play in rubble that was once a house.
Children play near a house damaged during recent clashes with government forcesImage: AP

The report comes on the back of a UNICEF statement issued Saturday, saying that eight children were killed and 33 wounded this month alone. 

Other relief agencies lamented the plummeting funding levels for relief efforts in the war-torn country. Save the Children's own funds for aid to children in Yemen has dropped by more than 40% compared to last year.  

Open conflict since 2014

A continuous ebb and flow of violence since Houthi rebels took control of the capital Sanaa and sent the government fleeing in 2014 has resulted in nothing more than deadlock. A Saudi-led coalition intervened seeking to restore the Yemeni government reclaim power. 

Infografik Streitkräfte Jemen EN

The US, which backed the Saudi coalition at the time, urged the Houthis to take up a Saudi ceasefire offer made on Monday. The Biden administration has been keen to end the conflict in Yemen, a shift after four years of a Trump administration that had supported Saudi Arabia's military operations in the war.    

The Houthis declined to take up the cease-fire proposal and continue pushing to take the government stronghold of Marib, in central Yemen. 

12.1 million in acute need

The war has killed about 130,000 people — among them 12,000 civilians — and triggered the world's worst humanitarian crisis in the region's most impoverished nation. 

Many hospitals, damaged by airstrikes and ground fighting have brought the health system to a breaking point with more than half of all health facilities closed or partially functioning, according to Save the Children. 

"Some 20.7 million Yemenis need some kind of humanitarian assistance, including 12.1 million people in acute need," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman to the UN's secretary-general, adding "just to give you some context, I think there are 28 or 29 million people living in Yemen."

jm/msh (AP)

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