Children made up one-quarter of civilian casualties over the last three years in Yemen’s war between Houthi rebels and the internationally recognised government.
More than 2,300 children were killed between 2018 and 2020, Save the Children said in a new study on Tuesday. However, the aid agency said the actual toll is likely to be much higher.
“This is a man-made disaster resulting from a conflict that is being waged with near-complete disregard for the wellbeing and safety of the civilian population,” Gabriella Waaijman, global humanitarian director for Save the Children, said.
“Almost every day we hear of children and families caught up in the fighting, often paying with their lives.”
Save the Children’s report comes on the heels of a UNICEF statement issued on Saturday, saying eight children were killed and 33 wounded this month alone.
Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF’s representative to Yemen, said the casualties happened in several areas including the provinces of Taiz and Hodeidah, where fighting between forces of the internationally recognised government and Iran-aligned Houthi rebels has recently intensified.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia offered their Houthi rivals a ceasefire plan that includes the reopening of Sanaa international airport, which has been under siege for almost six years. The Houthis downplayed the offer, claiming it did not offer anything new.
“All parties to the conflict must fully implement a ceasefire as soon as possible,” said Joubert.
“The ceasefire should be used to work towards a sustainable peace and a political solution to this war – it’s the only way to truly end this humanitarian catastrophe.”
Like other relief agencies, the London-based Save the Children deplored plummeting funding levels for relief efforts in the war-stricken country.
The group said its funds for aid to children in Yemen has dropped by more than 40 percent compared with last year.
“If the UN’s predictions are correct, the worst famine in decades could kill hundreds of thousands of children. We must do everything we can to prevent this from happening,” said President and CEO Janti Soeripto.
Since the Saudi Arabia-led coalition militarily intervened in Yemen in March 2015, tens of thousands of people have been killed and much of the impoverished country’s infrastructure has been destroyed.
The military intervention came after the Houthis removed the internationally recognised government in late 2014 and captured vast swathes of the country’s territory.
Now mired in deadlock, the war has killed about 130,000 people – including more than 12,000 civilians – and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in a country that was already the Arab world’s most impoverished nation.
The United States has been keen to stop the war in Yemen. Earlier this month, the US envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, urged the Houthis to accept his ceasefire proposal.
However, the rebels are still pushing aggressively to take the government stronghold of Marib, in central Yemen.