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85,000 Yemen kids died of hunger, Save the Children says

Humanitarian aid body Save the Children says more than 80,000 Yemeni children may have died from hunger since the civil war began in 2015

An estimated 85,000 children under five may have died from extreme hunger in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in the civil war in 2015, Save the Children said.

Save the Children says according to a conservative estimate based on United Nations data, approximately 84,700 suffering from severe acute malnutrition may have died between April 2015 and October 2018 in the improvised country, where a Western-backed Arab alliance is battling the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement.

“We are horrified that some 85,000 children in Yemen may have died because of the consequences of extreme hunger since the war began. For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are dying from hunger and disease and it’s entirely preventable,” Save the Children said in a statement.

The last available figure from the United Nations for the death toll from the conflict, seen as proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, was in 2016 and stood at 10,000.

The world body has not provided figures for the death toll from malnutrition but warned last month that half the population, or some 14 million people, could soon be on the brink of famine and completely reliant on humanitarian aid.

The Armed Conflict Location & Data Project, a database that tracks violence in Yemen, says around 57,000 people have been reported killed since the beginning of 2016.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government that was ousted from Sanaa in 2014 by the Houthis, who control the most populated areas of the Arabian Peninsula country.

But since seizing the southern port of Aden in 2015, the coalition has faced a military stalemate and has been focusing on wrestling control of the main port city of Hodeidah to weaken the Houthis by cutting off their main supply line.

The coalition last week ordered a halt to military operations in Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis. A few days later the Houthis announced a halt to missile and drone attacks on coalition leaders Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates along with their Yemeni allies.

However, Hodeidah has witnessed intense fighting in the past two days, mostly taking place at night, as each side tried to reinforce its positions during the de-escalation in hostilities. Aid groups have warned against an all-out assault on the city, an entry point for more than 80 per cent of Yemen’s food imports and humanitarian aid.

US envoy Martin Griffiths arrived in Sanaa on Wednesday to meet with Houthi leaders to discuss convening peace talks in Sweden next month to agree on a framework for peace under a transitional government.

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