Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore calling for the protection of children in Hodeida and throughout Yemen, 12 June 2018

Children watch a mini tornado whip up sand as it travels across the desert landscape near the town of Huth situated about 80km north of Yemen's capital of Sanaa. (File Photo: Giles Clarke/UN OCHA)

NEW YORK, 12 June 2018 – “As Hodeida faces the threat of an assault, I am extremely concerned about the impact it will have on children in this port city and beyond.

“UNICEF estimates that at least 300,000 children currently live in and around Hodeidah city – boys and girls who have been suffering for so long already.

“Millions more children throughout Yemen depend on the humanitarian and commercial goods that come through that port every day for their very survival. Without food imports, one of the world’s worst malnutrition crises will only worsen. Without fuel imports, critical for water pumping, people’s access to drinking water will shrink further, leading to even more cases of acute watery diarrhea and cholera, both of which can be deadly for small children.

“There are 11 million children in need of humanitarian aid in this war-torn country. Choking off this lifeline will have devastating consequences for every one of them.

“UNICEF teams delivered antibiotics, syringes, IV fluid, ready-to-use therapeutic food and hygiene kits to our local partners in Hodeida just two days ago. But this will only last so long. Should the security situation worsen, our capacity to respond will be severely hampered.

“We urge all parties to the conflict and all those who have influence over them to put the protection of children above all other considerations. Every effort must be made to keep children safe and to provide them with the health, protection, water, sanitation, nutrition and education services they desperately need.

“Aid distribution should continue unimpeded and civilians wishing to move to safe areas should be allowed to do so.

“I welcome current diplomatic efforts to avert a full attack on Hodeida. Peace should be given a chance. The children of Yemen deserve nothing less.”