STATEMENT attributable to Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

NEW YORK/AMMAN- “The children of Yemen are bearing the brunt of a brutal conflict. The cessation of hostilities that has come into effect today is an opportunity for parties to take action to improve their protection.

“In the past year, the United Nations verified a significant increase in grave violations against children by all parties to the conflict in Yemen. According to recent figures, 900 children were killed, a seven fold increase compared with 2014. Child recruitment increased five times, with 848 cases verified. Meanwhile, attacks on schools and hospitals have doubled, bringing the total number to over 115. The disruption in the delivery of basic services has deprived thousands of children of their fundamental rights to education and health.

“The incidents that the United Nations was able to verify represent the tip of the iceberg, but they do reveal some very concerning trends. First, it is estimated that children represent around one-third of all civilians killed and close to a quarter of those injured. Second, attacks on civilian infrastructure, especially schools and health clinics, have become commonplace. Third, children are now playing a more active role in combat and manning checkpoints including on the front-lines.

“Taken together these data represent a disturbing pattern of flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and the rights of children in Yemen. These patterns have far-reaching implications for the stability of Yemen and the future of its children.

“We hope the cessation of hostilities and the peace talks which are scheduled to begin on 18 April, will finally bring an end to this conflict. We call on all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, to commit to releasing children who have been recruited and used in the fighting, and to end all grave violations against boys and girls. Parties should take every possible measure to protect schools and hospitals, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to children and all those in need.”

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Stephanie Tremblay, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, +1-212-963-8285 (office), +1-917-288-5791 (mobile), tremblay@un.org

Juliette Touma, Communication and Media Specialist, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa , +962-6-550-2400 ext. 524 (office), +962-79-867-4628 (mobile), jtouma@unicef.org