UN Report: 11,000 Children Killed in Yemen

The true death toll of children is likely far higher as millions face hunger and disease, UNICEF said.

Neighborhood in Yemen’s capital city, Sanaa, months after an airstrike, Oct. 9, 2015. (Almigdad Mojalli/VOA, Wikimedia Commons)

By Julia Conley
Common Dreams

After launching an urgent appeal for humanitarian aid for children in war-torn Yemen, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund on Monday released a report showing that more than 11,000 young people have been killed or injured in the U.S.-backed conflict, where a Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out attacks since 2015.

The true death toll of children is likely far higher, said the agency, commonly known as UNICEF, as millions face hunger and disease.

“Thousands of children have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands more remain at risk of death from preventable disease or starvation,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement.

The report was released just over two months after the expiration of a cease-fire between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis, who oppose the Saudi-backed Yemeni government. At least 62 children have been killed since the two sides failed to renew the temporary peace agreement, and during the months long cease-fire, 74 children were killed by landmines.

The known number of maimed children in Yemen is equivalent to about four young people being hurt per day, according to UNICEF.

2018 Chicago protest against the Saudi war in Yemen. The blue backpacks stand for each one of the children killed in the Saudi attack on a school bus with a bomb manufactured by Lockheed-Martin.(Charles Edward Miller, Flickr, CC BY SA-2.0)

In addition to the danger children across the country have faced while attempting to go about daily life in their homes and schools, nearly 4,000 boys were recruited as child soldiers between March 2015 and September 2022, said the agency. Nearly 100 girls have also worked at checkpoints and in other military positions.

The U.S. has supported the coalition with strategic input, in-air refueling and weapons sales for years, and as Juan Cole wrote at Informed Comment on Monday, the crucial backing has continued even after President Joe Biden announced the U.S. was officially ending its support.

Biden “has directed that only defensive weapons be sold to the Saudis,” wrote Cole. “Most contemporary munitions, however, are dual use and can be used for offense as well. Mr. Biden supported the two ceasefires this year but has not been able to get them renewed.”

The report was released as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to bring a War Powers Resolution to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as this week, aiming to end all U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition.

As thousands of children have been killed and injured by bombings carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, stringent controls on maritime imports to parts of the country controlled by the Houthis — where 70 percent of Yemenis live —have also led to severe shortages of food, water, and medicine.

Roughly 2.2 million Yemeni young people face acute malnourishment, said UNICEF, and one-quarter of those children are under age five. With 10 million children lacking access to healthcare as health clinics have been forced to close, a majority of the country’s children are now at extreme risk for measles and other vaccine-preventable illnesses, as well as cholera. 

Cole noted that the U.N. Development Program estimated a far higher death toll among children in Yemen more than a year ago, saying that by the end of 2021, 377,000 Yemenis were expected to have died as a result of the war —whether from airstrikes, hunger, dangers associated with displacement, or disease. Seventy percent of those killed were estimated to be children, the UNDP said at the time.

“So that is actually about 263,000 dead children if we count all the deaths provoked by the war,” wrote Cole.

Last week Russell traveled to Yemen to launch UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children Appeal, calling for $10.3 billion to help provide clean water, food, health services and other essentials to children affected by conflicts across the world. Russell said $484.4 million is needed to address Yemen’s humanitarian disaster.

Russell called on negotiators on both sides of the conflict to urgently renew the cease-fire that expired in October, saying a temporary peace deal “would be a positive first step that would allow critical humanitarian access.”

“Ultimately,” said the UNICEF chief, “only a sustained peace will allow families to rebuild their shattered lives and begin to plan for the future.”

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.


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5 comments for “UN Report: 11,000 Children Killed in Yemen

  1. Rebecca Turner
    December 14, 2022 at 03:37

    I have long found it strange that, here in the UK, it is perfectly respectable to have a well-paid career making things that kill children, whereas those guilty of non-fatal child abuse are shunned.

    “PRESTON, UK – Jack sits down with his pint in the Fielden Arms in Mellor and contemplates his latest shift making Typhoon warplanes for the Saudi air force. Tucking into steak and chips, the 25-year-old talks of moving in with his girlfriend, his good pay at the nearby BAE factory – £40,000, almost twice the local average – and the security it brings. And then he thinks of the people those planes will be sent to kill. “You see the children in Yemen starving on the 10 o’clock news,” he tells Middle East Eye. “But you try to not pay attention and just get on with it.”
    His friend, Harry, interjects: “It’s really weird and there is no way to describe it, because you are in essence building a weapon of mass destruction.”
    So why don’t they quit? “Good pay and job security,” Jack responds, taking another sip of his beer. “If the military contracts go, 7,000 people go with them.”
    Jack is like thousands of others who work at the BAE Systems factory in nearby Samlesbury, outside Preston in Lancashire, making parts that will be assembled in nearby Warton to create Typhoons, the most advanced jet fighters operated by the Saudis over Yemen.”

    (Made in Britain, tested on Yemenis: The reality of working for the bombmakers, Middle East Eye, 25 July 2017)

  2. Jimmy Colwill
    December 13, 2022 at 14:04

    The actual number is 263,900 (toddlers). Source: hxxps://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/11/23/un-yemen-recovery-possible-in-one-generation-if-war-stops-now

  3. susan
    December 13, 2022 at 13:04

    This is absolutely unforgivable – and the American public continues to allow this genocide from our so-called government, MSM, the MIC and ourselves. This bloody country stands for nothing of substantive significance, zero, zip, nada. We are the land of pure unadulterated excrement!

  4. JonnyJames
    December 13, 2022 at 12:14

    Thanks for covering this: the corporate media oligopoly refuse to cover this. I would argue that the worst humanitarian crises in the world right now are in Yemen, Afghanistan, Haiti, Palestine…
    I would also argue that these crises were largely, if not solely, created by US foreign policy.

    The fact that these atrocities are ignored by “western media” is telling. The fact that every day on outlets like the Guardian, Independent, NYT, WaPo etc. we see anti-China, anti-Russia propaganda accusing these countries of genocide, war crimes and so on. This must be some sort of psychological projection since the US and vassals (KSA, The EU, Israel) commit these atrocities on a daily basis.

    Afghanistan is under unilateral blockade by the US (so called sanctions). This is not only flagrantly illegal, it must be among the most horrific policies in recent years. The US stole 8 billion dollars from the world’s poorest country. Afghanistan already has the shortest average life expectancy in the world, now it will likely go even lower.

    The US could stop the war in Yemen, stop the crisis in Afghanistan, Haiti, Palestine etc. if there were political will. However, we see clearly that these policies are supported by both D/R factions of the Oligarchy. As Bill Clinto said years ago when he ‘alienated his base”: “What are they gonna do, vote Republican?” The joke is on us.

    Then we have the risk of global thermonuclear annihilation closer than ever – but the politricksters think that is just fine.

    I’m sure glad we live in a country that values human rights, democracy and the rule of law eh.

    • Richard J Bluhm
      December 14, 2022 at 09:41

      Indeed, this is “1984” + 38! I think Orwell’s little book was the most depressing I’d ever read. Likewise, the times we live in fulfill the criterion of the old Chinese curse of being most “interesting.”

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