Source: Save The Children
SANA’A, 31 May – Yemen’s warring parties must act now to renew their peace deal to avoid further robbing an entire generation of their future, children warned today as the two-month nationwide truce comes to an end on 2 June.
Children from Taiz and Sana’a told Save the Children how the truce that started on 2 April has positively affected their life and what recommendations they have for future peace talks. For many children, the truce is the first time they have felt hopeful about their future.
“Destruction sums up my life during war. Everything was destroyed during the war: schools; houses. I lost my uncle and my cousin to this war,” said Maya*, 10, who was left with severe health complicationsaftershrapnel hit her left arm, back and stomach.
“It’s essential the truce continues because we wish to live in safety,” she continued. “We don’t want bombardment and fear. We want to live a safe and happy life, but if we slip into war again, we will be living in fear, just like the past [seven] years.”
Yemen remains one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world and one of the most dangerous places to be a child.
However, since the truce began, the number of child casualties has dropped significantly, according to data from the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project. Between February and March, 50 children were killed or wounded in Yemen’s war compared to 18 during the truce, a nearly 65% decrease. In January alone–the deadliest month in Yemen this year– 136 children were killed or injured, more than seven times the number of causalities than during the two-month truce.
Ammar*, 11, was injured by shrapnel in Taiz when a shell exploded outside his home while he was playing with his friends. He explained that peace in Yemen would mean children could play, learn and just be kids without being afraid someone would get hurt.
“I fear that one of my friends will get injured, this makes me anxious all the time. I wish the warring sides renew the truce and stop fighting, no bombing or anything. I would like to tell people in power, please, let there be peace,” said Ammar.
Save the Children organised hearing sessions with 20 children, including Maya and Ammar, to hear their recommendations to resort peace in Yemen. The children are calling for the five recommendations to be considered by decision-makers and peace-negotiators as part of the peace talks currently being held with the warring parties:
- To renew the current truce agreement for an indefinite period of time
- To consider the truce as the first step towards putting an end to the war in Yemen
- To lift road blockages and allow the free movement of people and commercial goods within and between governorates
- To support efforts to identify and remove land mines and unexploded remnants of war
- To include children in any and all future peace talks
Save the Children’s Country Director for Yemen, Rama Hansraj, said:
“The past two months of peace have sparked a new hope to put an end to the unspeakable suffering of millions of children in Yemen. Children deserve to be heard and included in deciding their future and the future of their country.
“Children in Yemen are already making difficult choices every day: whether to attend school or not; whether to go play with their friends or stay inside because it’s too dangerous outside. These are decisions no child should have to make —and yet, this is exactly what is happening in Yemen today.
“It is our duty as adults to protect these children, listen to them, and make sure they get the chance to live a life free from violence and war.”
Save the Children is calling on warring parties to extend the truce to further protect children’s lives, while working to ultimately bring the humanitarian crisis to an end. Parties to the conflict must respect International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, and must protect children and their families from the horror of the ongoing violence, avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and take immediate, practical measures to reduce their impact on homes, schools, hospitals and vital civilian infrastructure.
Save the Children has been working in Yemen since 1963, implementing programmes in education, child protection, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, and emergency response across most of the country.
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