The rising death toll of civilians, specifically women and children, in ongoing military conflicts is generating strong messages of condemnation from international institutions and human rights organisations – with the United Nations remaining helpless as killings keep multiplying. The worst offenders are warring parties in “the world’s five most conflicted countries”, namely Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR), and most horrifically, Yemen, where civilian casualties have been rising almost by the hour.
Four in five Yemenis now in need of immediate humanitarian aid, 1.5 million people displaced and a death toll that has surpassed 4,000 in just five months. An United Nations said the scale of human suffering is “almost incomprehensible”. Under-Secretary-General for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien stressed that the civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict and warned that unless warring parties came to the negotiating table there would soon be “nothing left to fight for”.
An August assessment report by Save the Children-Yemen on the humanitarian situation in the country of 26 million noted that over 21 million people, or 80 percent of the population, require urgent relief in the form of food, fuel, medicines, sanitation and shelter. The health sector is on the verge of collapse, and the threat of famine looms large, with an estimated 12 million people facing “critical levels of food insecurity”, the organisation said.
Edward Santiago, Save the Children’s Country Director for Yemen, said, “We don’t yet know the full extent of the damage at Hodeida but we can’t lose a day; time is running out for Yemen’s children who are already at risk of starvation, disease, and abuse.” He said there are already 5.9 million children going hungry, 624,000 displaced and about 7.3 million sick and wounded kids who are not receiving medical attention. According to a new report by UNICEF, an average of eight children are being killed or maimed every day.
UNICEF says “Yemen is one of the most under-funded of the different emergencies UNICEF is currently responding to around the world.”