11,000 children in Yemen killed or maimed in war, UN says

At least 62 dead or wounded since UN-brokered truce ended in October

A child waits for humanitarian food aid in Sanaa. Thousands of Yemeni children are at risk of starvation, Unicef has warned. EPA
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More than 11,000 children are known to have been killed or maimed in Yemen's civil war since it escalated nearly eight years ago, the UN said on Monday.

That is an average of four children a day since fighting intensified in 2015, though the true toll of the conflict is likely to be far higher, the UN's children’s fund reported.

“Thousands of children have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands more remain at risk of death from preventable disease or starvation,” said Unicef executive director Catherine Russell.

About 2.2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished, one quarter of them aged under five, and most are at extreme risk from cholera, measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, Unicef said.

Civil war broke out in Yemen in 2014 and saw Iran-backed Houthi rebels seize the capital Sanaa. A Saudi-led coalition intervened at the invitation of the internationally recognised Yemeni government the following year.

Hundreds of thousands have died since, either as a result of fighting or indirectly through unsafe drinking water, disease outbreaks, hunger and other impacts. The UN has called the conflict one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises and aid operations.

Unicef's latest numbers confirm 3,774 child deaths between March 2015 and September 2022.

A UN-brokered truce lasted for six months until October 2, but warring parties then failed to agree on an extension.

Since then at least 62 children have been killed or wounded, said Unicef.

“The urgent renewal of the truce would be a positive first step that would allow critical humanitarian access,” Ms Russell said.

“Ultimately, only a sustained peace will allow families to rebuild their shattered lives and begin to plan for the future.”

The UN agency also said 3,904 boys had been recruited into the fighting over the years, and that more than 90 girls had been given roles, including working at checkpoints.

Unicef has appealed for $484.4 million in funding to tackle the humanitarian crisis.

“If the children of Yemen are to have any chance of a decent future … all those with influence must ensure they are protected and supported,” said Ms Russell.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 7:53 AM