World Bulletin / News Desk
Almost 1,500 children have been killed and a similar number recruited by the warring sides in the Yemeni conflict, the UN said Tuesday.
The UN’s human rights agency said most of the child soldiers had been recruited by the Houthi militia groups fighting the internationally recognized government and its Gulf Arab allies.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said 1,476 boys were recruited between March 2015 and Jan. 31.
“However, the numbers are likely to be much higher as most families are not willing to talk about the recruitment of their children, for fear of reprisals,” she told a news conference in Geneva.
The recruitment of children under 15 “may amount to a war crime,” she added.
UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesman Christophe Boulierac said 1,490 children had been killed in fighting since March 2015. A total of 4,667 civilians were killed and 8,180 injured up to Feb. 23.
Boulierac added that a child under-5 “dies every 10 minutes from preventable diseases in Yemen”.
The Iran-backed Houthis and their allies overran the capital Sanaa in 2014 before sweeping south. The war escalated in March 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition launched a military campaign against the rebels in support of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
In total, more than 7,500 people have been killed in the war and 40,000 wounded, according to the UN.