Children from Taiz told Save the Children that since the six-month UN-led truce ended this October, they constantly fear for their lives when they are playing outside or walking to school, and safety is their most pressing concern.
“Before the truce, our minds would always be on high alert, imagining that a shell might fall at any second,” said Diana*, 14, from Taiz. “We never felt safe. However, during the truce, we felt safe going out and playing as well as going to school and studying. We knew nothing would happen because there is a truce.”
Despite the positive gains made for children during the nationwide truce, more than 330 Yemeni children have been killed or injured in the war so far this year.
On Friday, world leaders signed a historic declaration to impose limits on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas to reduce civilian harm and to provide assistance to victims and affected communities.
The conflict in Yemen has been characterised by the intense use of explosive weapons, including thousands of air strikes, artillery and mortar shells, as well as landmines and other explosive ordnance. These types of tactics have caused unspeakable harm to children, resulting in deaths, injuries, lifelong disabilities, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure.
“A mortar shell killed one of my relatives. There is no safety in our world. We are fearful at school, fearful at the hospital. Everything is surrounded by fear,” said Ruba*, 17, from Taiz. “No matter what we do, we are frightened. We cannot play, study, or go out without fear. We always worry about falling shells or shooting erupting, we're never safe.”
Save the Children organised hearing sessions with children across Yemen, including Ruba and Diana, to mark World Children’s Day on 20 November. Children attending the workshop in Taiz are calling for the following three recommendations to be considered by decision-makers and humanitarian actors to ensure Yemen becomes a better place for children:
- To prioritise protecting children from violence and abuse.
- Ensure schools and hospitals are protected from attacks.
- Mediate a nationwide extended truce that paves the way to lasting peace.
Save the Children’s Country Director for Yemen, Rama Hansraj, said:
“Our teams in Yemen regularly meet children who have been robbed of their childhood and their fundamental right to life. Children are killed, maimed, abused, and forced to worry about survival in Yemen every single day.
“There can never be a justification for killing or abusing children, and the world must act now to stop the impunity for these crimes. Yemen's future depends on its children, and their safety and well-being are the true indicators of peace and stability. We must listen to the voices of children like Ruba and Diana and work alongside them to invest fully in shaping a better tomorrow.”
Save the Children has been working in Yemen since 1963, implementing programmes in education, child protection, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, and emergency response across most of the country. Save the Children continues to provide the needed assistance to child casualties, covering the costs of medical treatment, providing psychosocial support, and supporting the families of the victims to ensure an enhanced resilience.
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The data analysis on casualty numbers was conducted by Save the Children Yemen Country Office between January 1, 2022, until November 15, 2022. More than 330 children have been killed or injured in Yemen since January, an average of more than one child a day.
- The numbers of casualties (fatalities and injuries) are extracted from the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project under Yemen’s Protection Cluster (https://civilianimpactmonitoring.org/).
- Total Child Casualties in 2022 up until November 15th is 333 (Fatalities: 92 / Injuries: 241).
- According to 2022 report on Children in Armed Conflict covering the period between Jan 1st and Dec 31st, 2021, the United Nations verified the killing and maiming of 681 children (Killing 201 and Maiming 480) and has verified 2,748 grave violations against children.
- According to 2021 report on Children in Armed Conflict covering the period between Jan 1st, 2019, and Dec 31st, 2020, the United Nations verified the killing and maiming of 2,612 children (Killing 678 and Maiming 1,934) and has verified 8,526 grave violations against children.
- Yemen remains among the countries with the highest number of verified grave violations against children, including but not limited to killing and maiming, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access. In the period between 2019 to 2021, the UN has verified 11,274 verified grave violations, including 3,293 cases of killing and maiming.