AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Ninety-two children were killed and 241 injured in Yemen between the start of January and Nov. 15 despite a relative lull in hostilities under a truce brokered by the UN on April 2, according to international charitable organization Save the Children.
It said a child has been killed or injured every day this year in Yemen, as it urged armed factions in the war-torn country to protect children and refrain from attacking civilian locations and gatherings.
Children in the besieged city of Taiz told the organization that arbitrary shelling and fighting have prevented them from going to school or hospital, or even venturing out of their homes. They urged rights groups to put pressure on warring factions to protect children from mistreatment and violence, protect schools and hospitals, and push for an extension to the truce, which expired in October without a renewal agreement.
“There can never be a justification for killing or abusing children and the world must act now to stop the impunity of these crimes,”said Rama Hansraj, Save the Children’s country director for Yemen.
“Yemen’s future depends on its children, and their safety and well-being are the true indicators of peace and stability.”
A Yemeni rights organization said the Iran-backed Houthis are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Yemeni children during the war by forcing them to fight in the conflict, shelling their homes, schools and other civilian institutions, and laying thousands of landmines across the country.
The Network for Rights and Freedom said in addition to 6,728 children who died on the front lines and were formally grieved by the Houthis, the militia were responsible for the deaths of a further 3,597 children between January 2015 and July this year.
Of those 3,597, 519 were killed by Houthi snipers, 748 by shelling, and 514 died as a result of Houthi sieges of their cities and villages, including in Taiz. A further 647 youngsters lost their lives to landmines.
Houthi landmines, snipers and bombardments of residential areas injured 6,317 children during the same period, including 516 who suffered permanent disabilities or amputations.
Of all Yemeni cities, the number of child deaths and injuries was highest in Taiz, followed by western Hodeidah, Marib, Aden and Lahj.
“The Houthi militia forced hundreds of children to drop out of school and work in a perilous labor market with no legal or moral safeguards to support their families, leaving many of them vulnerable to Houthi militia recruiting gangs,” the NRF said.
Meanwhile, fighting between government troops and the Houthis broke out on Monday morning in a number of contested areas outside Taiz, according to local military officials and residents.
Yemen’s army said it pushed back a fresh Houthi assault on government-controlled areas to the west and north of Taiz, the latest in a series of attempts by the militia to seize control of new areas.
Residents said the Houthis on Sunday evening shelled residential areas near an old airfield west of Taiz, injuring a child and causing large explosions.