Yemen’s “ignored” conflict marked 1,000 days on Wednesday, since a coalition loyal to the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels plunged the country into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with children hit the hardest, Save the Children has said. The international NGO that promotes children’s rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries said on Wednesday that the conflict has already led to the death of thousands of children from violence, hunger or preventable diseases like cholera.
Since March 26, 2015, the Saudi-led coalition backing President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi has been at war with Iran-allied Houthi rebels. Save the Children lamented that the situation in the poorest country in the Middle East has deteriorated into a living nightmare where children starve to death daily and are shelled and bombed in their homes and schools.
Caroline Anning, senior conflict and humanitarian advocacy advisor at Save the Children in London told Vatican News the conflict has brought the country to its knees with children paying the “heaviest price” . She said half a million children under 5 years of age are suffering severe malnutrition, and without treatment many will die of hunger or associated diseases.
Majority of children, Anning lamented, are out of school, and facilities like hospitals they rely on are shout down. In last few weeks children have been killed and injured in air strikes and bombings. The Save the Children advocacy advisor described it as a “devastating situation for children” which she said “has been brought about directly as a result of this conflict.”
15,000 strikes in 1,000 days
According to the Yemen Data Project that is tracking the war, there have been 15,000 air strikes in the last 1,000 days. The use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas is increasing as modern warfare becomes more protracted and urban in nature, and children are paying a heavy price. Research suggests when these bombs are dropped on towns and cities, 92% of the casualties are civilians. On average globally, a civilian dies every hour of every day because of mortars, missiles, air-dropped bombs, rockets and other deadly explosive weapons.
Tamer Kirolos, Yemen Country Director of Save the Children blamed both sides in the conflict for the situation in Yemen, describing their conduct as “deplorable”. He also described the international community’s inaction or inability to end the suffering of Yemen’s children as “shameful”. “We expect 50,000 children to die this year alone, and if this war continues there will be countless more lives lost needlessly across Yemen,” Kirolos warned.
Caroline Anning of Save the Children said, “we cannot let this conflict go on really for a day longer,” considering the devastating impact it is having on children and civilians in Yemen and the collapse of the country.
Save the Children wants to see is an “immediate ceasefire and lifting of the blocks on humanitarian and commercial supplies into Yemen.” It also wants greater action from the international community, particularly the United Nations Security Council, to bring about a “negotiated end to this conflict” and an end to the “violation” of rights by the warring parties that is taking place every day.
Anning said Save the Children want to see a much greater urgency from the international community in bringing the war to an end, which she said is being “ignored much too long.”
The impact of the war in Yemen in figures:
· 4.5 million children and pregnant or lactating women are now acutely malnourished, representing a 148 percent increase since late 2014.
· 462,000 children are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) – a 200 percent increase since 2014.
· Based on current trends there could be nearly 600,000 severely malnourished children aged under-five in Yemen in 2018.
· According to the WHO there have now been almost one million cases of cholera in Yemen.
· 63 out of every 1,000 live births now die before their fifth birthday, against 53 children in 2014.
· More than 1,900 out of 3,507 health facilities in 16 governorates have either completely shut down or been forced to scale back operations.
· 4.5 million children were unable to go to school this term, which could have a devastating and life-long impact on their development.
(Source: Save the Children)