Medical

United Nations : Children in conflict zones vulnerable to killing, rape

United Nations : Children in conflict zones vulnerable to killing, rape

But Ban said he stood by the report, which said the United Nations verified a total of 1,953 youngsters killed and injured in Yemen in 2015 — a six-fold increase compared with 2014.

Saudi Arabia's U.N. Mission said in a statement that the coalition maintains its position "that there is no justification whatsoever for including its name in the annex of the secretary-general's report on children and armed conflict".

The United Nations has worked to avert attacks on Hodeidah port, where around 80 percent of Yemen's food imports arrive.

The airport is held by the rebel Houthi fighters who also control the rest of the capital, but airspace over Yemen is dominated by the rival Saudi-led Arab coalition, which is helping the Yemeni government fight the Iran-linked Shia rebels. The Houthi movement denies the allegations.

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, told the Security Council by video link that "it is no secret that there are many merchants of war in Yemen who do not want peace". O'Brien said monthly air strikes in 2017 had tripled from past year, while monthly reports of armed clashes were up 50 percent.

Al Qaeda has exploited the conflict to try to deepen its influence in Yemen, repeatedly launching bomb and gun attacks.

O'Brien said that he was grieved that, in the past two years, despite his and his team's much effort, he has been "unable to report any significant improvement in the deplorable, avoidable and completely man-made catastrophe that is ravaging Yemen".

Stephen O'Brien urged the immediate reopening of the airport in the capital Sanaa to civilians and the lifting of restrictions on commercial imports coming through the port of Hodeida, which handles some 70 per cent of goods coming into Yemen.

More than half a million Yemenis have been infected with cholera and some seven million are on the brink of starvation, the United Nations has said.

He also stressed the need for civil servants to be paid "to prevent the collapse of institutions and for accountability to be strengthened".


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