Daoud*, 15 months, receives treatment for Severe Acute Malnutrition at Save the Children’s Outpatient Therapeutic Program in a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Yemen. Daoud* and his family were displaced from Hodeidah, Yemen. Credit: Jonathan Hyams / Save the Children
*Name has been changed.

Yemen: One in Ten Children Forced From Their Homes Because of Conflict and Violence

Half a million children displaced by fighting in Hodeidah in just six months

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Jan. 30, 2019) – At least one in ten children across Yemen—1.5 million—has been forced from their home because of the four-year-long brutal war, exposing them to serious risks including hunger, disease and violence, warns Save the Children.

More than half a million children have been displaced by the fighting in Hodeidah governorate in just the past six months, according to the UN. That’s an average of more than 2,000 children every single day since June. Hodeidah has seen some of the worst fighting in Yemen.

Civilians fleeing violence face life-threatening risks the moment they embark on their journeys. The most immediate dangers are death or injury due to explosive weapons, which have been used indiscriminately by all parties to the conflict with little regard for their legal obligation to protect civilians in conflict.

On August 23, 2018, 22 children and four women were reportedly killed when an airstrike hit their vehicle as they were trying to flee the fighting in Hodeidah. Recently on January 26, at least eight civilians were killed in a center for displaced families in Hajjah, reportedly due to shrapnel from nearby shelling. Monitoring group ACLED recorded at least 25 attacks against internally displaced people in the second half of 2018.

If displaced families manage to survive their dangerous journeys and avoid airstrikes and shelling to reach relative safety, they face further difficulties in strained host communities or in camps lacking in adequate food supplies and basic sanitation and hygiene. This puts young children at risk of malnutrition and disease in a country where the health system has all but collapsed and some 14 million people are on the brink of starvation. Save the Children estimates 85,000 children have already died from extreme hunger and disease since 2015.   

“In the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, some of the most vulnerable children are those who’ve fled their homes because of the fighting,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Yemen Country Director.

 “They’ve been forced out of school and are at risk of exploitation and abuse. We’ve 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. Host communities that were already struggling to survive are under enormous strain, unable to cope with the massive influx of displaced families into their towns and cities. These children have been robbed of their basic rights to life, health and education. They need support now.”

“We welcome a marked decrease in active hostilities on the ground after the warring parties agreed to a ceasefire in Hodeidah last month, but the situation remains tense and Hodeidah port is still not operating at the levels needed to address the urgent humanitarian needs of millions of Yemenis,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. “That translates to children dying from entirely preventable causes because vital food and medicine just aren’t getting into the country. We have seen little evidence that anything has changed for the people of Yemen, especially children, who continue to suffer.

“The international community must ensure the implementation of the Stockholm agreement and take immediate and concrete steps to address the root causes of this man-made humanitarian crisis, including ensuring full and unhindered access of humanitarian and commercial goods and stabilization of the Yemeni economy."

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