900 children killed in Yemen conflict in 2015: UN

United Nations, March 30 (IANS) More than 900 children were killed and over 1,300 injured in 2015 due to conflict in Yemen, said a report released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

“Unicef verified more than 1,560 incidents of grave violations against children in Yemen,” said the report on Tuesday.

“On average at least six children have been killed or maimed every day since March 2015, a sevenfold increase compared with 2014,” Xinhua cited the report as saying.

According to the report, most of the killing and maiming of children happened in the governorates of Taiz, Sanaa, Saada, Aden and Hajjah where the violence and fighting have been the heaviest.

Yemen has been mired in an all-out civil war since September 2014, when the Shia Houthi group, backed by forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, invaded Sanaa and drove President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi into exile.

Security situation in the country has deteriorated sharply since March 2015, when the Islamic State carried out its first major attacks in Yemen and a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against Houthi targets.

The violence has affected an estimated 21.2 million people, about 82 percent of the total population, who need urgent humanitarian assistance, Unicef said. It also said that almost half of those in need are children.

The UN agency also verified that the recruitment and use of children in the fighting continues to increase as the war escalates.

Statistics show that there were 848 cases of child recruitment in the past year; children as young as ten years old have been recruited into the fighting.

On Wednesday, UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said a nationwide cessation of hostilities in Yemen will start at midnight on April 10, and the country’s warring parties will begin peace talks in Kuwait on April 18.

The talks will focus on five main topics, including the withdrawal of militias and armed groups, the handover of heavy weapons to the state, interim security arrangements, the restoration of state institutions and the resumption of inclusive political dialogue and the creation of a special committee for prisoners and detainees.

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