'Ending the war won't save them': Seven million Yemeni children face threat of famine

'Ending the war won't save them': Seven million Yemeni children face threat of famine
The UN children's agency welcomed US calls for a ceasefire, but warned ending the war was not enough given the scope of the humanitarian crisis.
2 min read
01 November, 2018
More than half of 14 million people at serious risk of famine are children [AP]
More than seven million Yemeni children face a serious threat of famine, the UN children's agency warned.

"Today, 1.8 million children under the age of five are facing acute malnutrition, and 400,000 are affected by severe acute malnutrition," said Geert Cappelaere, regional director of UNICEF.

"More than half" of the 14 million people at serious risk of famine in the impoverished country are children, Cappelaere told AFP late on Wednesday.

"Ending the war is not enough," he said, referring to a more than three-year conflict that pits the government-in-exile of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, against Houthi rebels.

Cappelaere welcomed a call by the UN on Wednesday to relaunch peace talks within a month.

He said efforts to come up with a solution in the next 30 days were "critical" to improving aid distribution and saving lives.

Cappelaere said that over 6,000 children have either been killed or sustained serious injuries since 2015.

"These are the numbers we have been able to verify, but we can safely assume that the number is higher, much higher," he said.

Saudi Arabia and its allies entered the war to bolster President Hadi after the Iran-backed rebels took over the capital Sanaa.

Since 2015, upwards of 50,000 people have been killed and some 22 million - three quarters of the population - are in need of food aid.

Yemen's government announced on Thursday it was ready to re-start peace talks with Houthi rebels, as international pressure to end the years-long conflict intensifies.

The UN said a day earlier it aimed to relaunch the talks within a month, after a previous attempt collapsed in September when the rebels refused to attend.

The US this week called for an immediate end to fighting in Yemen, where Washington backs a Saudi-led coalition fighting alongside the government against the Iran-backed Houthis.

In September, the Houthis refused to travel to Geneva for planned peace talks, accusing the UN of failing to guarantee their delegation's return to the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Both the Houthis and Saudi Arabia along with its allies stand accused of transgressions that could amount to war crimes. 

The coalition has been blacklisted by the UN for the maiming and killing of children in a country where 14 million people now face starvation.

Yemen, long the Arab world's poorest country, is the target of the longest drone war in US history. 

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