At least 62 children killed in Yemen conflict: UNICEF

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United Nations, April 1: At least 62 children have been killed and 30 injured during clashes in Yemen over the past week, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

"The fighting is severely damaging basic health services and education, while violence and displacement are leaving children terrified," Julien Harneis, UNICEF's representative for Yemen, said in a statement, according to a Xinhua report.

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The current escalation in violence and the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation is exacerbating already precarious conditions for children in the country, with widespread food insecurity, severe acute malnutrition and increased rates of child recruitment, according to UNICEF.

"Children are in desperate need of protection, and all parties to the conflict should do all in their power to keep children safe, " Harneis said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called on all parties involved in military operations in Yemen to ensure the protection of civilians, Xinhua reported.

[UN chief urges protection of civilians in Yemen]

Ban voiced his deep concern about reports of numerous civilian casualties resulting from the ongoing military operations in Yemen.

"The secretary-general reminds all parties involved in military operations in Yemen of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians. This includes the strict adherence to the principles of proportionality, distinction, and precaution," the statement issued by Ban's spokesperson said.

Saudi Arabia and fellow GCC member states launched airstrikes on Houthi positions in Yemen on March 26, a move condemned by Iran but supported by the US, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.

Yemen has been mired in deep political conflict since 2011 when mass protests forced former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

The situation worsened when Houthis rebels seized power in early February this year, and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled subsequently to Aden.

More than a dozen countries have closed their embassies in Yemen's capital Sanaa in protest against the Houthi takeover of the city and over security concerns.

IANS

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