CAIRO — The United Nations said Thursday that at least 3,774 children have been killed in Yemen’s civil war between March 2015 and September 2022.
According to the latest statistics released by the United Nations Children’s Fund, another 7,245 children have been maimed in the eight-year conflict between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition. supporting the internationally recognized government of Yemen.
The conflict began in 2014 after Houthi rebels descended from the mountains and took control of the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north of the country, forcing the Yemeni government into exile. The Saudi-led coalition then went to war in March 2015, backed by the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
According to UNICEF, some 3,904 boys were recruited as child soldiers from March 2015 to September 2022. The UN agency also estimated that around 2.2 million children in Yemen suffered from “acute malnutrition”.
“For the children of Yemen to have a chance of a decent future, parties to the conflict, the international community and all those with influence must ensure that they are protected and supported,” said Catherine Russell, Executive Director from UNICEF.
The agency said any numbers it produced are likely much higher.
The organization called for an urgent renewal of the ceasefire agreement, which lasted from April to early October and saw a lull in frontline fighting.
A deal to extend the truce fell through hours before its Oct. 2 deadline. The United States and the UN accused the Houthis of making last-minute demands, while the rebel force blamed their withdrawal on the UN’s reluctance to provide written guarantees for several of its key demands.
Houthi rebels have openly recruited child soldiers, many of them through “summer camps” in which they spread their religious ideology to young boys. Houthi officials admitted to The Associated Press earlier this year that his rebel force recruited boys as young as 10, arguing that boys that age are considered men. Houthi rebels have used landmines extensively, a weapon that killed at least 74 children across Yemen between July and September this year, the UN reported.
Thousands of civilian and child deaths have also been attributed to Saudi-led airstrikes, which hit markets, weddings, funerals, residences and hospitals. In 2018, an airstrike hit a bus carrying children to school in northern Yemen, killing more than 40 young boys.
Yemen’s devastating conflict has killed more than 150,000 people, including more than 14,500 civilians, according to The Armed Conflict Location & Event data project. The fighting has plunged Yemen into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, plunging it into deeper poverty and on the brink of famine.