UNICEF Middle East Regional Director and Australian humanitarian Peter Salama has ended a three-day visit to Yemen where he witnessed the impact of the country’s brutal conflict on children.
The visit followed UNICEF’s confirmation of 365 children killed since the conflict escalated in late March. An additional 484 children have been injured according to monitoring carried out by UNICEF and its partners in Yemen.
“These figures underline the extent to which Yemeni children continue to be the innocent victims of this appalling violence,” Dr Salama said ahead of a deadline set by the coalition for a five-day truce to allow humanitarian aid to be to Yemen.
Boys hold shrapnel from exploded artillery shells found on a street damaged by blasts in the Yemen capital of Sana’a. © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1297/Hamoud
“This is totally unacceptable and with no end in sight to the conflict, the safety and welfare of children should be put above and beyond all military and political considerations.”
Dr Salama said aside from the direct impact of the conflict on children, millions faced increased risk of an outbreak of measles, malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia and more than one million children were now at risk of acute malnutrition.
“As tragic as the deaths and injuries among children are the indirect impact of the violence may result in far more deaths among children in the long term and could affect an entire generation,” Dr Salama said.