The ongoing Saudi aggression against Yemen has killed or injured more than 5,000 children and left another 400,000 severely malnourished and fighting for their lives, the UN children’s agency said.
In a report unveiled in Sana’a on Tuesday, UNICEF said nearly 2 million Yemeni children were out of school, a quarter of them since a Saudi Arabian-led war on the impoverished Arab country.
More than 3 million children were born into the war, the report said, adding they had been “scarred by years of violence, displacement, disease, poverty, under nutrition and a lack of access to basic services.”
UNICEF said the more than 5,000 children killed or injured in the violence amounted to “an average of five children every day since March 2015.”
“An entire generation of children in Yemen is growing up knowing nothing but violence,” said Meritxell Relano, UNICEF representative in Yemen, according to UN News Center.
“Malnutrition and disease are rampant as basic services collapse,” he added.
The UN agency said more than 11 million children – or “nearly every child in Yemen” – was now in need of humanitarian assistance.
Four mobile cranes arrived in the Houthi-controlled Hudaida Port, the UN said Monday, after the coalition agreed to let them into Yemen, where nearly three years of war have pushed it to the verge of famine.
“The port in theory is going be open to the 19th of this month. Then we don’t know if the coalition will close or [leave] it open,” Relano said.
“Obviously the feeling is that they extend this period so that the commercial goods can come in, but especially the fuel,” she said, speaking from the capital Sana’a.
United Nations aid agencies have called for the Yemeni port of Hudaida to remain open beyond Friday, the date set by the coalition, to permit continued delivery of lifesaving goods.
Before the Saudi war, Hudaida Port handled around 70 percent of Yemen’s imports, including food and humanitarian supplies.
Fuel is vital to power water and sanitation stations to provide clean water and help avoid diseases, the UNICEF representative said.
“Yemen is in the grips of the world’s biggest hunger crisis,” World Food Program spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said. “This is a nightmare that is happening right now.”
Luescher, asked about prospects for the Hudaida Port lifeline to remain open, said, “Obviously since the cranes were imported and are operational, we are hopeful and optimistic that our work can continue.”
A diphtheria outbreak in Yemen is “spreading quickly,” with 678 cases and 48 associated deaths in four months, Fadela Chaib of the World Health Organization said.
Ibb and Hudaida are the worst-hit of the 19 affected governorates, she added.
“We can stop the outbreak by providing antibiotics and also vaccinating,” she said, adding that 2.5 million doses have been imported for a planned immunization campaign.
Since March 25, 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
Yemen’s Legal Center of Rights and Development has recently announced that the Saudi campaign has claimed the lives of over 12,040 Yemenis and left more than 20,000 others wounded.