Yemen Conflict: Children Under Fire

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (April 2, 2015) — The raging conflict in Yemen is putting children under fire across the country, as attacks on civilian infrastructure are leaving the most vulnerable exposed to the worst forms of violence.

Earlier this week, bombs dropped near a camp for displaced people in Mazraq killed more than 29 people, including 14 children and 11 women. Some of these had just fled from Sa'adah, while five of the children who were killed had been displaced since 2009 and frequented a child-friendly center run by Save the Children, where more than 600 boys and girls attend.

Save the Children has had to suspend operations in Mazraq and other parts of the country due to the violence. In Aden, all family centers run by Save the Children have been closed because of the shelling. It has been reported that most boys aged 12 and upwards are either armed to protect their families or engaged in armed fighting.

“This eruption of violence comes on top of an already existing humanitarian catastrophe and decades of poverty,” said Save the Children’s acting Yemen country director, Priya Jacob.

“The attack on Mazraq Camp gives us just a glimpse of how civilians are coming under fire -- and this is just the tip of the iceberg in a country where 15.9 million (or 61 percent of the population) needs some form of humanitarian aid. 850,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition, with a shocking 41 percent of Yemen’s children suffering from stunting in the poorest Arab country.”

In most parts of Yemen food is running out, whilst in some parts of the country water is only available once every fortnight, power cuts can last as long as 18 hours a day, and fuel shortages have led to rationing. Meanwhile the agency has had to evacuate its international staff as a precautionary measure. The majority of staff in country is made of Yemenis, and our priority remains to respond to the needs of children and their families wherever it is possible.

Save the Children calls on all parties to the conflict to prioritize access to humanitarian aid, which has been impeded by the insecurity. All efforts must be taken to ensure that civilians, particularly children, are protected and spared from the effects of the violence.

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