The National Salvation Government in Sanaa has signed an agreement on the protection of children with the United Nations, the official Yemeni news agency Saba reported on Wednesday, citing a military official.
During the signing ceremony, the Advisor to the President of the Supreme Council for Diplomatic Affairs, Abdelelilah Hajar, said that Yemen’s children were the most affected by aggression and siege.
According to statistics, some 8,330 children have killed or injured, and a total of 1,214 schools and educational centers, and 410 hospitals and health centers were targeted.
According to United Nations statistics, some 13 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance, 2.2 million children under the age of 5 are currently suffering from malnutrition and more than half a million are suffering from life-threatening severe malnutrition, while thousands of children have been affected by severe diarrhea and cholera outbreaks, along with the displacement of more than 2 million others.
Hajar stressed that “since the beginning of the aggression against Yemen, the military forces and Popular Committees have been investigating with the utmost degree the obligation to respect the norms of international humanitarian and human rights law, including avoiding targeting civilians, especially children, and civilian objects, especially schools and hospitals, or using them for military purposes.”
“The violations attributed to the national side in the Secretary-General’s reports were concentrated in a limited conflict zone within Yemen, where many extremist and hostile armed groups were present which did not hesitate to commit numerous violations. The source of these attacks was difficult for monitors and observers to determine. In addition, the army and Popular Committees do not possess sophisticated warplanes capable of launching raids on cities and neighbourhoods,” Hajar continued.
He also affirmed that the Yemeni people, their army and Popular Committees uphold tolerant Islamic values that prohibit and criminalise abuse or harm to children, let alone cause their death or injury.
For his part, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen David Gressly praised the signing of the action plan by the authorities in Sana’a.
“This is a step in the right direction to protect Yemen’s children,” he said.
UNICEF representative in Yemen, Philippe Duamelle, described the signing of the Action Plan as a milestone and important for the protection of children in Yemen whose lives have been horribly affected by the conflict.
He expressed the aspiration for the full implementation of the action plan and to continue to work with all parties to protect the safety of children in Yemen.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, who attended the signing ceremony, commended the signing of the Plan of Action.
She noted that peace was “the best means of preventing grave violations against children in Yemen,” calling for seizing the current truce’s opportunity to include child protection in the ongoing peace negotiations.