More than 7,500 children have been killed or wounded in Yemen in the last 5½ years as a result of airstrikes, shelling, fighting, suicide attacks, mines and other unexploded ordnance, according to a UN report released Friday. The report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the killings and injuries were among 11,779 grave violations against children during the period between April 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2018. It said the figures are likely to be worse because monitoring Yemen has become increasingly difficult, the AP reports. The conflict in the Arab world's poorest country began with the 2014 takeover of Yemen's capital Sanaa by Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite rebels, who toppled the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. A Saudi-led coalition allied with Yemen's internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
Saudi-led airstrikes have hit schools, hospitals, and wedding parties. The Houthis have used drones and missiles to attack Saudi Arabia and have targeted vessels in the Red Sea. Civilians have borne the brunt of the conflict, which has killed thousands of people, created the world's worst humanitarian crisis, and brought Yemen to the brink of famine. Virginia Gamba, the UN special representative for children in conflict, said that while some positive measures have been adopted by the warring parties, "the suffering of children in Yemen has worsened during the reporting period, becoming simply appalling," adding: "The children of Yemen had nothing to do with the start of this conflict. They should now be given the opportunity to exit from it and be assisted to fully recover." Gamba called on all parties to participate in the ongoing peace negotiations. According to the report, the largest number of violations against children in the 5½ years were the 7,508 youngsters who were verified to have been killed or maimed.
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