UNICEF for the Middle East and North Africa warned this Saturday of the deaths of 17 boys and girls in Yemen so far this year, almost double the number in December last year.
“Since the beginning of the year alone, 17 children have been killed. That’s nearly double the total since last December,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF regional director.
“Violence has escalated rapidly since the beginning of the year and has taken a sharp turn in several locations in Yemen,” UNICEF said in a statement.
Children in Yemen “are still the first and pay the most” as nearly seven years after the war began in Yemen, the conflict is considered “one of the most brutal in recent history,” according to the Children’s Rights Defense Agency.
UNICEF has called on all parties to the conflict in Yemen and “those who influence them” to respect international law and protect civilians, including children.
In his view, “Civilians and civilian property, including educational and medical facilities, should not be targeted and should always be respected.”
More than 10,000 boys and girls have been injured or killed since the Yemen conflict escalated in 2014, according to the United Nations, although they believe the real number could be “much higher”.
“Too many children are affected by a war they did not cause. It’s time for the combatants to end the violence and find a political solution. This is the only way to save children’s lives and prevent more misery and suffering for families trapped in this conflict,” said UNICEF.
The war in Yemen pits the internationally recognized government, led by Abdo Rabbu Mansur Hadi and backed by an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia, against the Iran-backed Houthis.
The rebels control the capital and other areas in the north and west of the country. The main fighting is currently centered in Marib province, despite international mediation efforts, in a war that has created the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.