Date Published: 1 October 2010
UNICEF concern for children in southern Yemen
In recent weeks, there has been a steady increase in violent clashes, including air strikes, between government troops and armed groups in Southern Yemen.
An estimated 2,000 families - around 15,000 people, most of whom are children - have been displaced by the recent clashes in Al-Hauta Village of Mayfa'a District, (Shabwah Governorate).
“The humanitarian impact on the civilian population of Yemen, especially children, is of grave concern to UNICEF”said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.
“Children have been injured in the fighting and continue to be at risk from unexploded ordnances, landmines and other explosive remnants of war. Schools that have just re-opened have been disrupted because school buildings are being used to host displaced people.?
In this conflict, as in most, children are among the first victims. They continue to face threats to their already challenged lives and their physical development because of further shortages of water and proper nutrition, closing of schools and additional risk of disease. UNICEF and its partners are providing immediate assistance to 700 most vulnerable displaced families, and supporting preparations for their return to Al-Hauta.
There are currently already over 300,000 internally displaced persons in northern Yemen alone as a result of the Sa'ada conflict. Sixty per cent of these are children. A recent Comprehensive Inter Agency Assessment Report on the Situation of Children in Conflict-Affected Governorates in Northern Yemen targeting 1064 children and care givers revealed that 8% of IDPs and affected families have had one child killed as a result of the conflict. 10% (of children of these families) have been injured as a direct result of the fighting from both sides of the conflict, 21% of children reported that they saw someone being injured or wounded and 7% had witnessed someone being killed.
The latest conflicts in southern Yemen are exacerbating an already dire situation and - exerting a heavy toll on children, affecting their right to health, education and protection.
“All parties to the conflict must put the safety and well being of all children first, irrespective of circumstance. Putting children at the centre of the development agenda may be the best guarantee to prevent radicalisation” said Mr. Cappelaere.
”Political, security and other considerations should never get in the way of providing essential help to children.”
UNICEF welcomes the outcome of the recent Friends of Yemen meeting held in New York in September and is committed as part of the UN contribution, to play an active role in assisting the effective implementation of a focused and prioritised development plan for Yemen, enhanced social protection and decentralised delivery of social services.
Source: UNICEF Website, Press Release.