At least 74 children have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes since the fighting in Yemen began on March 26, Unicef, the U.N. children's agency, said in a report Monday.
The number of casualties presented in the report is a conservative figure as the actual number of children killed in the Yemen fighting could be much higher, the report said, adding that 44 children have been wounded since the conflict intensified in the country.
“Children are paying an intolerable price for this conflict,” Julien Harneis, a Unicef representative based in Yemen, said in a statement. “They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted. These children should be immediately afforded special respect and protection by all parties to the conflict, in line with international humanitarian law.”
According to Unicef, more than 100,000 people had to leave their homes in search of safer places to stay, while hospitals were under increasing pressure to manage mass casualties with insufficient supplies.
Some hospitals and medical facilities in Yemen also came under attack, the report said, adding that at least three health workers including an ambulance driver have been killed so far in various attacks.
The U.N. agency said that it is providing fuel for the running of water supply pumping in three cities in the south including Aden, where water systems have been repeatedly damaged in the fighting. In other parts of the southern region of the country, there are reports of water accumulating on the streets and sewage overflowing, increasing the risk of disease outbreaks.
“Conditions are very dangerous right now,” Unicef’s Dr. Gamila Hibatullah in Aden, said in the statement. “Hospitals are overflowing, and even ambulances have been hijacked.”
A Saudi Arabia-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes in Yemen for over two weeks to halt the advances of the Iran-backed Shiite militant group and return Yemen’s exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.
On Monday, fighting escalated in Aden, with the Houthi rebels trying to seize control of the port city, which has been the last major foothold of fighters loyal to Hadi, the Associated Press reported.