Over 3,500 children in Yemen suffered grave violations in 2019 and 2020
On 27 September, the Office of Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict published its third report on the situation of children and armed conflict in Yemen. According to the report, 8,526 grave violations against children were recorded in Yemen between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2020, with denial of humanitarian access, killing and maiming, and the recruitment and use of children being the most prevalent. In total, more than 3,500 children suffered one or more grave violations.
The report documented a staggering rise in incidents of denial of humanitarian access to children in the two-year period, which was by far the most verified violation, with 4,881 incidents recorded. Sixty per cent of these related to restrictions of movement within the country, mainly due to the imposition of restrictive regulations and unpredictable blockages obstructing the delivery of assistance and services as well as routine travel. Other ways in which access was restricted included interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities, violence affecting humanitarian personnel, assets and facilities – including assault, arbitrary detention, arrest, harassment, threatening and intimidation of humanitarian personnel – and constraints on the movement of humanitarian personnel and goods into Yemen.
These restrictions prevent children from being reached with life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection activities, increasing their vulnerability and susceptibility exploitation, abuse, and other grave violations. Alarmingly, 2,600 children were killed or maimed during the reporting period, mostly through the indiscriminate use of mortar and artillery shelling, including in residential areas, ground fighting, antipersonal landmines, and other explosive remnants of war. 861 children – mostly boys – were recruited in 2019 and 2020, twothirds of them used in active combat and the remaining children used to guard military checkpoints, to place or clear mines, or in other roles such as spies, guards, porters and cooks.
In issuing the findings, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict called on “all parties to actively work towards a political solution for the conflict in order to save children from further harm,” noting that “the atrocities and immense suffering would likely leave a generation of Yemeni children scarred for life”.