By UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake
UNICEF deplores children being caught in the crossfire in Yemen and urges all parties to the conflict to do their utmost to spare civilians, especially women and children. At least 94 children have been killed and 240 wounded by gunshots or shelling in Yemen since civil unrest began this year.
Reports confirmed by our partners say that at least two children were killed this week. A seven-year-old girl was killed by shrapnel in the capital, Sana’a, on 2 October and a 13-year-old boy perished in the same manner on 4 October. UNICEF condemns all violence against children wherever they are.
The children of Yemen should be busy going back to school at this time of year. Instead, they face armed men rather than teachers, bullets instead of books. The country is sinking deeper into a humanitarian crisis.
The crisis in Yemen has the biggest impact on the most vulnerable, children, many of whom need assistance now and require help in the longer term if they are to recover.
Malnutrition rates were alarmingly high in the country even before the current violence broke out, and its impact on the poorest people has only been compounded by rising food prices and collapsing basic health services. Of 3.6 million children under five years of age in Yemen, at least 43 per cent are underweight and 58 per cent are stunted.
The deadly combination of widespread poverty and malnutrition, especially among children, is sweeping the country. Child malnutrition rates are already well above emergency levels in parts of the country and are as bad as malnutrition rates in some of the worst countries in the world, which receive more international media attention.
The people of Yemen need our attention and help now. There is not a moment to lose.
In this deepening humanitarian crisis, UNICEF calls for the urgent protection of women and children and a return to normal life so children can at least attend school in peace.