United Nations, Feb 26 : Four years of “mind-boggling violence” in Yemen “has not spared a single child”, a top UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official said, on the eve of a pledging conference in Geneva to help alleviate the suffering of millions across the country.
“In Yemen today, nearly 1.2 million children continue to live in 31 active conflict zones including Hudaydah, Taizz, Hajjah and Sa’da – in areas witnessing heavy, war-related violence”, said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Since the Stockholm Agreement was reached following UN-brokered consultations last December between the Yemeni Government and Houthi rebel leaders, not enough has changed for the children there, the senior agency official declared.
Every day since then, he said, children have been killed or injured, mostly while playing outdoors or on their way to or from school.
“The impact of the conflict in Yemen runs deep and has not spared a single child”, spelled out Mr Cappelaere. “Mind-boggling violence over the past four years, high levels of poverty, and decades of conflicts, neglect and deprivation, are putting a heavy strain on Yemeni society, tearing apart its social fabric – fundamental for any society and especially for children”.
UNICEF and its humanitarian partners have stepped-up efforts to tackle the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with the World Bank and UNICEF providing 1.5 million of the country’s poorest families with emergency cash assistance, to help prevent illegal child labour practices, marriage or recruitment into rebel forces.
“In 2019, UNICEF is appealing for $542 million to continue responding to the massive needs of children in Yemen,” the Regional Director said.
Noting that generosity alone “will not bring an end to children’s suffering in Yemen”, he again called on all warring parties to “put an end to violence in hotspots and across all of Yemen, protect civilians, keep children out of harm’s way and allow humanitarian deliveries to children and their families wherever they are in the country.”
As the international community meets in Geneva for a high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis on Tuesday, UNICEF appealed for “unconditional contributions to provide lifesaving assistance” to Yemen’s children and urged a “massive re-investment” in the country to help Yemeni children have the future every parent aspires to for their own children.
“This is the only way that Yemen can stand back on its feet, stressed Mr Cappelaere. “If not, Yemen will be riddled with violence and its future will hang by a thread – with disastrous consequences for children.” UNI