At least 10,000 children have been killed or injured in Yemen in violence linked to years of war in the impoverished country, the United Nations children’s agency said on Tuesday.
“The Yemen conflict has just hit another shameful milestone: 10,000 children have been killed or maimed since fighting started in March 2015. That’s the equivalent of four children every day,” UNICEF spokesman James Elder told a UN briefing in Geneva, where he urged an end to the fighting.
The figure only included child victims whose fates were known to the organisation and there were countless others, Elder said.
He added the verified tally collected by the UN provided what is surely an undercount of the real toll because many more child deaths and injuries go unrecorded.
“UNICEF urgently needs more than $235m to continue its life-saving work in Yemen till mid-2022,” Elder said.
“Otherwise, the agency will be forced to scale down or stop its vital assistance for vulnerable children. Funding is critical. We can draw a clear line between donor support and lives saved. But even with increased support, the war must come to an end.”
The UN has long considered Yemen 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 programmes.
The UNICEF spokesman warned at current funding levels, and without an end to fighting, UNICEF could not reach all the children in the country.
“There is no other way to say this, without more international support, more children – those who bear no responsibility for this crisis – will die,” he said.
“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.