Yemen: Endless suffering of children after 7 years of brutal armed conflict and massive humanitarian crisis – Yemen

Report of the United Nations Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Yemen

More than 3,500 children were victims of one or more grave violations in Yemen between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020, underlines the third report of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Yemen. Denial of humanitarian access, killing and maiming, and recruitment and use of children were the most common of the 8,526 grave violations against children.

The staggering increase in incidents of denial of humanitarian access to children in the country (4,881) over the two-year period was, by far, the most verified violation against boys and girls. Two thousand six hundred (2,600) children were killed or maimed during the same period, mainly by the indiscriminate use of mortar and artillery fire, including in residential areas, ground combat, mines anti-personnel landfills and other explosive remnants of war.

“The atrocities and immense suffering endured by children in Yemen are the result of an armed conflict that will invariably leave in its wake a generation of Yemeni children scarred for life. There is an urgent need for all parties to actively seek a political solution to the conflict if they hope to save children from further harm. Boys and girls are the future of Yemen. Parties to conflict must protect them from use and abuse and start treating children as the precious asset that they are,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba.

The protracted conflict in Yemen, the intensification of hostilities in 2019 and 2020, the proliferation of active frontlines and armed groups and forces, compounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, have resulted in acute suffering for children Yemenis, their families and their communities.

Verifying information on all grave violations committed by the UN on the ground was difficult. Aggravating factors in monitoring and reporting in 2019 and 2020 were due to security and access restrictions, including threats against and detention of monitors as well as fear of reprisals. The intensity of the conflict and hostilities has also hampered the ability to document and verify violations. Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have further exacerbated these existing access challenges.

The recruitment and use of 861 children was verified and often linked to other grave violations, in particular killing and maiming, with two-thirds of children recruited being used in active combat. The Special Representative stressed the need to address the root causes of recruitment, including poverty, unemployment and/or limited access to education, and called on all parties concerned to immediately release all children from their ranks and to prioritize their reintegration into their communities and civilian life. .

The deprivation of liberty of 111 children, detained for alleged association with parties opposed to the conflict, is also of serious concern. The Special Representative recalls that children must be considered first and foremost as victims, and that the deprivation of their liberty must only be used as a last resort and for the shortest period, in accordance with international standards for juvenile justice. It further calls on the international community to continue to support the reintegration of released children, including through the Global Coalition for the Reintegration of Child Soldiers.

Attacks on education continued with 37 incidents of attacks on schools and the military use of 80 schools, further undermining the right of boys and girls to an education with more than two million children currently not educated in Yemen.

Hope lies in dialogue and constructive engagement

The report describes the United Nations dialogue with parties to the conflict and the progress made by the Government of Yemen in implementing its action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, signed in 2014, and the roadmap adopted in 2018. which led to a significant decrease in this violation. The report also provides an overview of the Special Representative’s engagement with the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen under the Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the protection of children in Yemen signed in March 2019 and its operational roadmap, noting the sustained decrease in violations attributed to this party. The report further informs of the ongoing dialogue with the Houthis (who call themselves Ansar Allah) with the aim of signing a joint action plan to end and prevent all grave violations. The Special Representative encourages the parties to continue and redouble their efforts to accelerate the implementation of their ongoing commitments while urging those that have not yet done so to secure their commitment through action plans.

The Special Representative echoes the UN Secretary-General’s call for a nationwide ceasefire by all parties to the conflict and continued engagement with the UN Special Envoy for Yemen towards recovery of an inclusive political process to reach a comprehensive negotiated political settlement. In addition, and until peace is assured, the parties to the conflict must take all necessary preventive and mitigating measures to avoid and minimize harm and better protect children, including in the conduct of military operations. , promptly investigate incidents and refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas.

“Incorporating the rights and needs of children into the discussions will also be essential for a lasting peace and for the future of the country,” said Virginia Gamba, adding that the Practical advice for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict issued by his office is an important and available tool in this regard. “The terrible toll the war in Yemen is taking on children must end. Peace is the only solution and child survivors need our support to heal and rebuild their lives,” she stressed.


Note to Editors

Grave violations against children in Yemen between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2020

8,526 grave violations against 3,503 children

Recruitment and use: 861 children

Kill and maim: 2,612 children

Rape and other forms of sexual violence: 14 incidents of sexual violence affecting 7 girls and 7 boys. *The actual number is likely much higher as rape and other forms of sexual violence against children are greatly under-reported for fear of stigma, cultural norms, lack of awareness, fear of reprisal and lack of services adequate support and accountability pathways

Removal: 86 children abducted

Attacks on schools and hospitals: 72 attacks against schools (37) and hospitals (35)

Denial of humanitarian access: 4,881 incidents


For more information, please contact:

Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / [email protected]

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