SANA’A, Yemen – At least 226 Yemeni children have been killed and 217 more injured in air raids carried out by the Saudi-led Coalition in the last twelve months – a coalition that still benefits from Canada’s military assistance.[i]
The 443 killed and injured, are the equivalent of 37 children a month, according to a new analysis of open source data carried out by Save the Children.[ii] The number of children killed and wounded is likely to be even higher as not all civilian casualties in Yemen are reported publicly.
While Canada has not sold bombs to the coalition, the government has thus far failed to follow the example of countries such as Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Finland, Norway and Denmark, all of whom have announced a suspension or ban on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. Many of them have cited the crisis in Yemen as one of the reasons for their decision.
On March 26, it will be exactly 4 years since the conflict in Yemen escalated.
Since then, air strikes have been the largest cause of conflict-related deaths and injuries among Yemen’s children, with more than 19,000 air raids.[iii] During the fourth year of the conflict in Yemen, almost half of children killed or injured were hit by bombs dropped from an aircraft.
“The use of explosive weapons in populated areas is an irresponsible tactic as they indiscriminately destroy all in their path,” said Bill Chambers, President and CEO of Save the Children. “It is impossible to imagine the terror a child must feel when a bomb drops on their home – or the desperation of parents trying to keep their children alive. Yet we know many were killed or wounded while they and their families were looking for safety.”
Save the Children has been helping children who are injured in airstrikes through medical treatment and in some cases, by providing specialists who help children through the mental health recovery from their trauma. Save the Children has also set up Child Friendly Spaces where boys and girls can safely play, learn and start feeling like children again, amidst the chaos.
“Innocent children are being killed every day. Canada must take a hard look at the human impact of our support to the Saudi-led coalition, and suspend military assistance. This must be paired with a continued push for warring parties to adhere to international law – so that schools and hospitals are safe from attack, and explosive weapons are not used in populated areas, and aid is not blocked. Perpetrators of these violations must be held to account,” continued Chambers.
Save the Children welcomed Canada’s long-standing and recent humanitarian assistance to Yemen, as well as Canada’s support to investigations of human rights violations in Yemen.
Save the Children also highlighted the need for Canada to continue to take every opportunity to push the political negotiations forward towards an end to the conflict. An agreement reached in December in Stockholm on the redeployment of armed forces in Hodeidah was a positive first step, Save the Children believes, but more is needed to reach a lasting peace for the girls and boys of Yemen and their families.
[i] Data over the period from March 15th 2018 – March 15th 2019.
[ii] Gathered by the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project. The CIMP is a mechanism for the collection, analysis and dissemination of open source data on the civilian impact from armed violence in Yemen, in order to inform and complement protection programming. It’s run as a service under the United Nations Protection Cluster.
[iii] UN on Children and Armed Conflict, Annual reports 2015, 2016, 2017.
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