More than 1,100 children have been killed in Yemen, most in airstrikes by the Saudi military coalition, while some as young as 10 have been recruited to fight, according to the latest UN figures on the three-year conflict.
Based on interviews with survivors, witnesses and family members as well as site visits, a report by the UN human rights office reveals an escalation in hostilities in the country, with more airstrikes in the first half of this year than in all of 2016. Human rights violations and abuses continue unabated, with at least 5,144 civilians killed and 8,749 injured in what the UN describes as an “entirely manmade catastrophe”.
The new figures were published after the head of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, called on Saudi Arabia to fund 100% of the humanitarian needs in the war-torn country.
At least 3,200 civilians were reportedly killed by coalition forces, according to the UN, although the numbers are likely to be higher. The Saudi coalition receives backing and weapons from the UK and the US.
Children account for 1,184 of those killed and 1,592 injured, mostly from coalition airstrikes, the report said. More than 1,700 children, some as young as 10, have been recruited for use in hostilities, 67% of them by the popular committee forces affiliated with the Houthis and their allies, army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The UN said its observers have “frequently” seen children who were armed and uniformed manning checkpoints.
Information gathered by the UN human rights office shows apparent indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations by both sides to the conflict, with civilians directly targeted by airstrikes and shelling.
The war began when the Saudi-led coalition launched a campaign in support of the president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized parts of the country including the capital, Sana’a.