“Without education [young Yemenis] will not be able to find jobs… A generation that is not educated has a very bleak future. We are losing a generation — many children are losing their education, and displacement makes it worse.” — Meritxell Relano, Yemen’s Director of UNICEF
HODEIDA, YEMEN — The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), expressing its concern about “future of Yemen’s children,” has said that a “lost generation” has begun to form in Yemen owing to the humanitarian conditions faced by children in the country under the Saudi-led coalition’s military campaign.
Yemen’s director of UNICEF, Meritxell Relano, highlighted on Thursday some of the Saudi war’s long-term effects on Yemen’s children, saying:
Without education they will not be able to find jobs… A generation that is not educated has a very bleak future. We are losing a generation — many children are losing their education, and displacement makes it worse.”
The UNICEF director added that more than half a million children have been forced to leave their homes in the past six months, most of whom have fled a major Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen’s port city of Hodeida during July and August.
Bhanu Bhatnagar, Save the Children spokesman, said:
Children forced to flee their homes often have to live in unsanitary and cramped conditions in camps or host communities with little access to clean drinking water or nutritious food. Children are specifically vulnerable to malnutrition, diarrhea, cholera, and diphtheria — nearly 90 percent of Yemen’s diphtheria deaths are of children who are under 14.”
Save the Children also reports that, despite an ongoing ceasefire in Hodeida, thousands of families are still fleeing the city in fear of a renewed Saudi siege. Many are struggling to afford basic items like food, fuel, and medicine.
The United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, tweeted on Wednesday “the coalition has prepared to use more calibrated force on Hodeida.” He confirmed that the coalition had struck 10 targets just outside of Hodeida city on Wednesday.
A systematic campaign to target food and spread famine
Dozens of civilians were killed, including women and children, and others injured when the coalition launched more than 50 airstrikes against Hodeida, Reimah, Hajjah, and Dhamar provinces, targeting infrastructure, homes and farms
In Reimah province, which lies west of Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a, coalition airstrikes targeted Blad al-Dha’am (food country), a large group of local farms that provide residents of the capital and surrounding cities with cereals and vegetables, with dozens of airstrikes on Wednesday.
On Monday, the Red Sea Silos, which house 51,000 metric tons of wheat — almost a quarter of the World Food Programme’s stock — were struck by coalition fighters, resulting in a fire that destroyed at least two of the silos. The deliberate targeting of food stocks and infrastructure has been routinely practiced by the Saudi coalition in Yemen and has severely exacerbated the humanitarian situation in the country.
In Hodeida, families are now sifting through rubbish for food, and medical supplies remain in short supply after the city’s last functioning hospital was damaged by Saudi airstrikes before the December ceasefire came into effect.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, backed by the United States, have been using starvation as a weapon against Yemenis and have been largely successful in doing so. Now 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the United Nations, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in over 100 years.
According to the Legal Center For Rights and Development, an organization that tracks Saudi violations of international law in Yemen, the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly, systematically and deliberately attacked sources of food — including farms, factories and central refrigerating units used for food storage — since it began its military campaign against the country in 2015.
Top Photo | Homeless children stand on the road in Hodeida, Yemen on Feb. 12, 2018. The United Nations children’s agency recently said that Yemen’s economic crisis and the relentless violence at a key Red Sea port city risks leaving millions of children and families without food, clean water and sanitation. Nariman El-Mofty | AP
Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.