Press TV – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says tens of thousands of children under the age of five have died of starvation in Yemen ever since Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies launched an atrocious military aggression against the impoverished country nearly four years ago.
“Children did not start the war in Yemen, but they are paying the highest price. Some 360,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, fighting for their lives every day. And one credible report put the number of children under 5 who have died of starvation at more than 80,000,” Guterres told a donor conference in the Swiss city of Geneva on Tuesday.
He went on to say that continued Yemen conflict has significantly increased the number of internally displaced people to 3.3 million, and the figure marks a sharp uptick from 2.2 million recorded last year.
The UN chief warned of the worsening health and humanitarian situation in Yemen, saying, “Over half of all health facilities are out of action, and nearly 20 million people lack access to adequate health care.”
“In 2017, the worst cholera epidemic in history reached unprecedented levels as water supplies and sanitation and public health services collapsed… Almost 18 million Yemenis still do not have adequate access to safe drinking water or sanitation,” Guterres noted.
The UN secretary-general added that Yemen’s crisis has taken a heavy toll on the education of students in the war-torn country.
“Two million children in Yemen are out of school, and 2,000 schools have been directly affected by the conflict: damaged, destroyed, converted to shelter for the displaced or occupied by armed groups. And half of the teachers in Yemen have not been paid in over two years,” he said.
Guterres touched on the truce deal in the strategic Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, emphasizing that progress has been slow in implementing a troop withdrawal.
Delegates from the Houthi Ansarullah movement and representatives loyal to former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi held face-to-face peace negotiations in Rimbo, north of the Swedish capital city of Stockholm, late last year. The talks resulted in the announcement of a break-through agreement.
The document includes three provisions: a ceasefire along the Hudaydah front and the redeployment of armed forces out of the city and its port; an agreement on prisoner exchange; and a statement of understanding on the southern Yemeni city of Ta’izz.
Yemeni forces shoot down Saudi reconnaissance drone in Hudaydah
Meanwhile, Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have intercepted and targeted an unmanned aerial vehicle, belonging to the Saudi-led military coalition, as it was flying in the skies over Hudaydah.
An unnamed Yemen military source told Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that Yemeni air defense forces and their allies shot down the drone as it was on a reconnaissance mission over Kilo 16 area on Tuesday evening.
Earlier in the day, Saudi mercenaries had lobbed a salvo of mortar shells at Hudaydah International Airport, with no immediate reports about casualties and the extent of damage.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing Hadi’s government back to power and crushing Ansarullah.
According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.
A number of Western countries, the US and Britain in particular, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.