Over 1.5 million children across Yemen have been forced from their homes. That’s 1 in 10 children; more than all children aged 14-and-under in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Halifax, combined.[i]

In the governorate of Hodeidah alone, more than 500,000 children have been displaced by the severe fighting, in just the past six months, according to the UN. That’s more than 2,000 children fleeing their homes every single day since June 2018. Hodeidah has seen some of the worst fighting and violence in the country.

The four-year long brutal war has exposed the children of Yemen to serious risks including hunger, disease and violence. Displaced children face treacherous journeys to safety with life-threatening risks along the way. The most immediate danger is death or injury from explosive weapons. Parties to the conflict are using these weapons with little regard for their legal obligation to protect civilians in conflict, with deadly results for children.

On August 23rd last year, 22 children and four women were reportedly killed when an airstrike hit their vehicle as they were trying to flee the fighting in Hodeidah. More recently, at least eight civilians were killed in a centre for displaced families in Hajjah, apparently due to shrapnel from shelling nearby.

Save the Children is calling for parties to the conflict, and those providing them with military assistance, to respect the international norms and standards in place to protect children in conflict.

“In the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, some of the most vulnerable children are those who’ve fled their homes because of the fighting. These children are at incredible risk of being killed or maimed, and in many cases are also forced out of school and are at risk of exploitation and abuse,” said Bill Chambers, President and CEO of Save the Children Canada. “We’ve also heard stories of children freezing in the cold winter months because they lack adequate shelter and families can’t afford the fuel needed to light a fire.”

If displaced families manage to survive their dangerous journeys, they come up against new issues of resource scarcity. Host communities or camps are lacking in adequate food supplies and basic sanitation and hygiene. For those children who have survived treacherous journeys, many, particularly the youngest, are then at risk of malnutrition and disease. Save the Children estimates 85,000 children have already died from extreme hunger since 2015.

“While we welcome a marked decrease in active hostilities after a ceasefire in Hodeidah last month, the situation remains tense. It’s terrifying for children, who in many cases, are living in fear of dealing attacks,” said Chambers.

Save the Children is also concerned that Hodeidah Port is still not operating at levels needed to address the urgent humanitarian needs of millions living in Yemen. This is leading to thousands of children dying from entirely preventable causes because food and medicine are not getting into the country.

“Overall, we have seen little evidence that anything has changed for the people, especially children, of Yemen.

“The international community must ensure the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, and take immediate and concrete steps to address the root-causes of this humanitarian crisis. This includes the full and unhindered access of goods that can save lives and stabilize the Yemeni economy.

“Countries providing ongoing military assistance to parties to the conflict in Yemen must urgently review the risks of this assistance, and make decisions on current and future assistance accordingly,” added Chambers.

– ENDS –

[1] According to census data. Vancouver figures calculated using Vancouver metropolitan numbers.


Notes to editors: 
– The population of Yemen is 28m according to theWorld Bank. It’s generally assumed that 50% of the population is under the age of 18, so a total of 14m children. The UN estimates there are2.9m internally displaced people in Yemen, which means approx. 1.5m children, or 10% of the total child population in Yemen.

– OCHA has registered 1,048,302 individuals as internally displaced between 1 June 2018 and 15 January 2019, which means approx. 524,151 children (1,048,302 / 2).

– There are 228 days between 1 June 2018 and 15 January 2019. 524,151 displaced children / 228 days = 2,299 displaced children from Hodeidah per day.

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