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28 February 2019

Statement from Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

SANA’A/GENEVA/SYDNEY 25 February 2019: “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.

“Not enough has changed for children in Yemen since the Stockholm agreement on 13 December 2018. Every day since, eight children have been killed or injured. Most of the children killed were playing outdoors with their friends or were on their way to or from school.

“The impact of the conflict in Yemen runs deep and has not spared a single child. 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 humanitarian partners have stepped up efforts to meet the massive needs of children and families in Yemen – the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. With the World Bank, UNICEF is providing 1.5 million of the country’s poorest families with emergency cash assistance – a means to help them avoid extreme survival measures like child labour, marriage or recruitment. In 2018 alone, UNICEF provided treatment to over 345,000 severely malnourished children while nearly 800,000 children received psycho-social support to help them overcome traumas they have endured.

“In 2019, UNICEF is appealing for AU$757 million (US$542 million) to continue responding to the massive needs of children in Yemen. We are grateful to donors for their generosity over the past years. But generosity alone will not bring an end to children’s suffering in Yemen. 

“Once again, UNICEF calls 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 this week for the high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, UNICEF appeals for unconditional contributions to provide lifesaving assistance to children in Yemen and urges a massive re-investment in Yemen to help Yemeni children have a future every parent across the globe aspires to for their own children. This is the only way that Yemen can stand back on its feet. If not, Yemen will be riddled with violence and its future will hang by a thread – with disastrous consequences for children.”