One year on from Yemen peace talks, 33 children are being killed or injured every MONTH in just two cities
Save the Children, 9th December 2019
One year after the Stockholm agreement, which should have brought stability to Hodeidah and Taiz in Yemen, children there are still victims of conflict.
Hodeidah and Taiz are still the deadliest areas for children in Yemen, one year after the signing of the Stockholm agreement which should have brought stability to the cities says Save the Children.
Between January and October this year, 33 children have been killed or injured[i] every month in the western port city of Hodeidah and in Taiz in the southwest. Nationwide, almost half the children who died as a direct result of the conflict in Yemen were killed in Hodeidah and Taiz.[ii]
The Stockholm agreement, signed by warring parties on 13 December 2018, aimed to stop fighting in the Red Sea area to prevent the situation from worsening.
This lack of progress continues to cost children their lives. Although there was a reduction in the number of casualties compared to 2018, between January and October 2019, 56 children were killed and 170 injured as a direct result of fighting in Hodeidah alone, and child fatalities in Taiz have more than doubled since the agreement[iii]. The 25 November saw the heaviest bombings since the start of the ceasefire in December 2018 following a wave of air raids in Hodeidah. Five children were also killed and another injured from shelling in Hodeidah on 3 December.
Parties to the agreement also committed to opening up a humanitarian corridor in Taiz so that families can leave the area safely, and to enable humanitarian support to get in. So far this has not materialised.
Doctor Mariam Aldogani, Save the Children field manager for Hodeidah, said:
“The Stockholm Agreement brought a glimmer of hope to civilians in the area, but the fighting is far from over. Every day we receive more wounded children in our hospitals who need care. This year our team has given medical care to more than 500 children who have been caught up in this conflict, some with life threatening injuries.”
“At one point this year we supported six children from two families. It was sad – some of the children had broken legs and shrapnel wounds all over their bodies. I cannot forget the youngest girl, just three-year-old, who had burns all over her hands … Children are still suffering, even after the signing of the agreement.”
Children in Hodeidah remain trapped, with constant fighting threatening their lives. Humanitarian operations continue to be challenging. Earlier this year Save the Children had to close some of its children’s centres for three months owing to security fears as a result of shelling. Their closures deprived more than 700 children of a safe space and respite from the chaos of war.
Sarah* (13), from Hodeidah, told Save the Children about a friend who was killed in 2018 by shrapnel while she was at school:
“I remember one day at school one of my classmates was leaving the bathroom and she was hit by shrapnel. My father refused to let us to go to school anymore and the school was shut down.”
Lina* (15), also from Hodeida, said:
“An airstrike hit right beside our house. We were really terrified. Our house was on fire as well, and we had to leave it until the fire was extinguished. You know, we have no other shelter except our house.”
“When I went to visit my friend, her family had left because their house was destroyed. That made us worry more, and after that day, I felt like I might die anytime from the war.”
Taha* (12) said:
“Wherever you go, there is fear. While you are going to or coming back from school, while playing outside, or going somewhere. Fear of an airstrike, or bullets. We are trying to tell them to stop the war… because we do not want to live in fear.”
Hodeidah is the gateway to Yemen, with 70 per cent of all imports arriving through the port. Even a temporary closure or disruption could decrease the availability of food, pushing prices up even further, and triggering famine.
George Graham, Director of Conflict and Humanitarian Policy at Save the Children, said:
“As the penholder for this crisis at the UN Security Council and with British weapons being sold to parties to the conflict, the UK has a political and moral obligation to the children of Yemen.
The anniversary of the Stockholm Agreement is an opportunity to urge the warring parties back to the negotiating table. International pressure from countries like the UK is crucial to end the conflict and to give Yemen’s children the chance of a decent future.”
Notes to editors:
On December 13th 2018, a UN-brokered deal was signed in Stockholm , encompassing three sub-agreements in which warring parties committed themselves to:
- an agreement on the situation in Hodeidah city and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa;
- a prisoner exchange;
- and a “statement of understanding” on the situation in Taiz.
All three agreements include a range of steps to de-escalate the military situation and improve the humanitarian situation. Averting further escalation in Hodeidah – and the devastating humanitarian impact this would have, given Hodeidah port’s critical role in bringing food and fuel into the country – was a key aspect of the Stockholm deal.
[i] Data from the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP) between January to October 2019. According to the CIMP-data, a total of 226 children were injured or killed in Hodeidah between January and October 2019. In Taiz, 57 children were killed and 49 were injured due to violence during that same period
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.
[ii] According to the CIMP data, a total of 239 children have been killed in 22 governorates of Yemen between January and October 2019, of whom 113 were killed in Hodeidah and Taiz.
[iii] According to the CIMP data there were 28 fatalities among children in Taiz over the whole of 2018. In the first ten months of 2019, the number had risen to 57.
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