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Yemen: Even children not spared

Innocence has always been a casualty in wars made out of lust for power or disputes about power. When powers that be refuse to talk peace and compromise but decide to pound bombs of annihilation, innocents, especially children suffer.  History may be repeating itself, in Yemen.  

United Nations agency for children released a report, which says that at an average eight children are getting killed or mutilated or seriously injured each day, directly connected with the conflict that amounts to war and has now gulped almost whole of the nation, in Yemen.

The report releases the finding that about 505 children have been killed and over 702 injured, since the violence accentuated from last March. UNICEF also reveals that children get killed in bomb attacks and street wars. The agency also points out that children are also being recruited to war front. They confirmed the existence of 606 such cases. The corresponding figure for the year 2014 was 156. This is a quantum leap as far as abuse of children’s rights in the conflict is concerned. 

The conflict in Yemen, currently, pits the Houthi rebels and battalions, which declare allegiance to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh on war front with militia of separatists from southern Yemen, tribal fighters and the military, which backs the current President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is in exile in Saudi Arabia. 

As for international intervention, Saudi is leading the Arab coalition, which is conducting aerial strikes on Houthi fighters from March. They are backed by US. It is also construed that Iran is clandestinely supporting the Houthis, who are predominantly of Sunni sect.

Yemen, which is the poorest country of the Arab region, is now literally wrecked by the conflict. Among the ill effects that the conflict have on children are the broken down health service facilities, raising levels of malnutrition, shut down schools and increased number of children being added to their ranks by fighting groups.

The UNICEF Representative in Yemen, Julein Harneis said that “This conflict is a particular tragedy for Yemeni children”. He added that “Children are being killed by bombs or bullets and those that survive face growing threat of disease and malnutrition.”  

The report emphasizes the point that considering the devastation that the conflict has brought upon on the lives of children, right now; it is sure to entail horrific consequences for their future.

If the whole of the nation is taken into account, about 10 million children, which accounts for 18 percent of Yemen’s population aged below eighteen years, require immediate humanitarian assistance. Figures show that more than 1.3 

million people were forced to flee abandoning their homes. 

UNICEF report says that about 15.2 million people have no access to primary health care and 900 health facilities were shut down from March 26 up to now. The report also projects that about 1.8 million children are likely to suffer from malnutrition of some kind, soon. They assess that about 20.4 million people are in requirement of help to establish or keep access to pure water and sanitation, due to the fuel shortages, infrastructure damage and insecurity caused by the conflict. The number of the shut down schools comes to nearly 3,600 and this factor will affect over 1.8 million children.

Since the start of the conflict, UNICEF has been active in providing humanitarian relief in Yemen. It has provided psychological help to over 150,000 children to make them come to terms with the horrors of conflict. However, the sad fact is that UNICEF activities are seriously underfunded considering the requirements that exist on ground, which are burgeoning.