Press Release | YEMEN CONFLICT: CHILD KILLED AND 48 INJURED FOLLOWING HUGE MILITARY EXPLOSION IN SANA’A RESIDENTIAL AREA

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Press Release

YEMEN CONFLICT: CHILD KILLED AND 48 INJURED FOLLOWING HUGE MILITARY EXPLOSION IN SANA’A RESIDENTIAL AREA

 

21 April- A child has been killed and a further 48 children wounded after a daylight airstrike by the Saudi-led military coalition set off a huge explosion near a residential area south of Yemen’s capital city Sana’a yesterday.

The aerial attack killed an estimated 39 civilians and badly injured 547, five of whom are children currently in a critical condition in hospital, according to latest Ministry of Health reports.

The explosion appears to have targeted a military base, but scores of nearby houses and vehicles in the residential Faj Attan district were destroyed, with collateral damage from the blast reaching a diameter of 5km. The area is home to at least five schools.

‘Children are at huge risk of injury and death as a result of the violence. The explosion yesterday, one of the biggest affecting the capital since the airstrike campaign started, offers a tragic example of the impact of using explosive weapons in populated areas, and illustrates the difficulties of operating in a context of full-on warfare,’ says Edward Santiago, country director for Save the Children, Yemen.

‘There have been reports of dead bodies in the streets, with injured civilians having major difficulties accessing medical help due to the fuel shortage. Hospitals all over Yemen are extremely short of drugs, medical supplies or blood, and Sana’a’s only blood bank is now likely to be foul due to no electricity.

‘Most houses have lost their windows and people are now reportedly evacuating the area because they expect more airstrikes in the coming days.’

Between 26 March to 18 April, 405 civilians, including 29 women and 86 children, were killed in Yemen, according to the latest figures from the UN. Schools have been closed since airstrikes started taking place during the daytime, raising concerns about the number of children missing valuable education and exams.

‘As of 16 April, the total number of children out of school due to the ongoing crisis reached 1.85 million – which has almost doubled from reports last week – and the total number of schools affected has reached almost 3,500. Before this latest explosion the number of schools affected at 48, with 19 in Saa’da, and 28 in the South of the country,’ says Santiago.

Yesterday’s explosion also hit the agency’s main office and guest house, injuring  three members of staff – the fourth Save the Children office damaged since the airstrike campaign started.

‘We have had to close down the Sana’a office until this weekend at least. Our priority is the safety of our staff, but in a context where the population was already extremely vulnerable, most of our operations are life-saving,’ explains Santiago.

‘Even stopping for a few days could cost lives, especially of children, with up to 850,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition in the poorest Arab country.’

 ‘Without the support of the main office, the other nine field sites will struggle to operate and could rapidly run out of cash, which could affect, for example, 11,500 people benefiting from general food distribution in Hajja or 3,000 receiving cash transfers in Hudeida,’ he adds.

Save the Children calls on all parties to the conflict to immediately end the violence and seek a negotiated solution to the conflict.  Access to humanitarian aid, which is impeded by the insecurity and the ongoing naval blockade, must be prioritized and all efforts must be taken to ensure that civilians, particularly children, are protected and spared from the effects of the violence, and international humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld by warring parties at all times.

ENDS

 

*To arrange interviews or for further information please contact:

:: Edward Santiago, Yemen country director, currently based in Amman.

+962795989251 or Edward.santiago@savethechildren.org

:: Ali Al-Sanani, acting area manager in Sana’a.

+967733391446 or ali.alsanani@savethechildren.org

:: Sady Al Sady, acting area manager in the North, based in Hodeida

+96773862115 or Sady.AlSady@savethechildren.org 

Reham Basheer, acting area manager South, based in Aden

+967 733 876 109 or reham.basheer@savethechildren.org

 

Notes for editors:

·       As of 16 April, the UN reported 767 deaths (405 civilians) and 2,906 injuries (785 civilians) in Yemen since 19 March. 

·       Some 850,000 children suffered from acute malnutrition before the worsening of the conflict, and over 40 per cent of Yemen's children suffer from stunting in what is the poorest Arab country.

·       Humanitarian partners estimate that at least 150,000 people have been displaced by violence across Yemen since mid-March, when conflict escalated.

·       15.9 million, or 61% of the population, was already in need of some form of humanitarian assistance before the war.

·       The rapidly deteriorating security situation in Yemen will exacerbate food insecurity. Many areas in the country are expected to face a crisis as a result of increasing needs due to continued conflict, market disruption, and limited humanitarian access.

·       According to WFP the average retail prices of wheat grain and flour already rose by 42 and 44 per cent in April, respectively, compared with February 2015.