More than 10,000 children in Yemen have been killed or injured in violence linked to years of war in the impoverished country, a spokesman for UNICEF said.
The verified tally from the United Nations’ reporting and monitoring operation provides what is surely an undercount of the real toll because many more child deaths and injuries go unrecorded, UNICEF spokesman James Elder told reporters.
He said the new numbers amount to four children killed or maimed every day, a “shameful milestone” since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in the war in 2015.
The UN has long considered Yemen — where war resumed in late 2014 after rebels took over the capital, Sanaa — as home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The country on the Arabian Peninsula faces the combined troubles of protracted conflict, economic devastation, and crumbling social and health services, as well as underfunded UN assistance programs.
More than four in five children require humanitarian assistance, which amounts to some 11 million kids, UNICEF says.
According to the UN figures, a total of 3,455 children were killed and more than 6,600 injured in the fighting in Yemen between March 15, 2015 and September 30 this year.
Children are the biggest losers’
“At the current funding levels, and without an end to fighting, UNICEF cannot reach all these children. There is no other way to say this – without more international support, more children – those who bear no responsibility for this crisis – will die,” Elder warned.
“They are starving because adults continue to wage a war in which children are the biggest losers,” he said, appealing for more funds to help the agency. “Yemen is the most difficult place in the world to be a child. And … it is getting worse.”
“Four out of every five children need humanitarian assistance. That’s more than 11 million children.”
In addition, “400,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition. More than two million children are out-of-school. Another four million are at risk of dropping out,” said Elder.
The Yemeni civil war began in 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.
Tens of thousands of people have died and millions more have been displaced.