Sanaa: Unicef's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa has said the war in Yemen had turned the entire country into "a living hell for children".
Geert Cappelaere said this on Sunday at a press conference about the man-made humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, where pre-famine conditions threaten 14 million people, or half the country's population, according to UN estimates.
"Yemen, colleagues, is today a living hell for children. A living hell not for 50-60 per cent of children. It is a living hell for every single boy and girl in Yemen," Cappelaere said in Amman, Jordan, after his recent trip to Yemen, Efe news reported.
"I visited Hodedia port. The port is a lifeline for 70-80 percent of the Yemeni population. It is only through Hodeida port that commercial and humanitarian supplies arrive, enabling us to deliver assistance in the northern part of the country," the UNICEF regional director said.
Since Saturday, the fighting has intensified around Hodeida, which is held by the Houthi rebel forces that also control the capital, Sana'a.
Forces loyal to the Aden-based government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have surrounded neighbourhoods in the eastern part of Hodeida, residents told EFE on Sunday.
Yemenis from the July 7 neighbourhood said hundreds of people had started fleeing their homes as the neighbourhood was under bombardment, adding that residents of nearby areas were also fleeing the city to the south.
More than 50 Houthi rebels and 17 pro-government fighters have been killed in clashes, state television reported Sunday, but it was unclear when the deaths occurred.
The war returned to the global spotlight last week when US media published a photo of an emaciated Yemeni girl named Amal, whose death on November 1 was referenced by the UNICEF regional director.
"There is not one Amal - there are many thousands of 'Amals'," Cappelaere said. (IANS)