279 children killed in Yemen conflict

United Nations, June 17 (IANS) At least 279 children have been killed and 402 wounded since the escalation of violence in Yemen, which began on March 26, said a UN spokesman.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the number of children in Yemen who have been killed as a result of conflict over the last 10 weeks is four times that of all those killed last year, Xinhua quoted Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the secretary-general, as saying.

Last year, 74 children were killed and 244 wounded in the conflict.

In the coming days, UN’s Special Envoy on Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is likely to brief members of the international community on the situation in Yemen, said Haq.

Yemen has been mired in political gridlock since 2011 when mass protests forced former President Ali Abdullash Saleh to step down. The three-year reconciliation talks failed to resolve the crisis but created a huge power vacuum.

The main fight right now is between forces loyal to the beleaguered President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and those allied to Houthis rebels, who forced Hadi to flee Sana’a in February. Both President Hadi and the Houthis are opposed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

It got further complicated when a coalition led by Saudi Arabia responded to a request by Hadi to intervene and launched air strikes on Houthi targets. So far, the Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Yemen for more than two and half months.

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