Amid warnings that the Saudi-led attack on Yemen is taking a devastating toll on civilians, including more than 75 children killed since fighting began, the United States announced on Tuesday that it will be expediting the shipment of more weapons to fuel the conflict.
Speaking to reporters in Riyadh after meeting with Gulf Arab allies and Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said the United States is increasing its support, through more arms and intelligence-sharing, of Operation Decisive Storm.
International aid groups warn that the operation, which is being led by the Saudi Arabia military with backing from Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain, as well as the U.S. Pentagon, has had a devastating impact on the nation's infrastructure and civilian population.
In a statement on Monday, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said that at least 74 children have been killed and 44 maimed since fighting began on March 26, while countless others have been injured, displaced and put at risk from disease.
"Children are paying an intolerable price for this conflict," said UNICEF Yemen Representative Julien Harneis speaking from the Jordanian capital Amman. "They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted. These children should be immediately afforded special respect and protection by all parties to the conflict, in line with international humanitarian law."
UNICEF added that the estimated number of child deaths is "conservative" and is likely higher due to the intensifying conflict.
On Tuesday, a Saudi-led airstrike targeting a Houthi-controlled military base in the central Yemen province of Ibb crippled a nearby school, killing a 10- and 12-year-old while injuring dozens of other students, local residents told Xinhua News.
Meanwhile, fierce fighting between the coalition and rebels has spilled into the streets of the Aden peninsula in the south, a situation the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) described as "catastrophic."
Marie Claire Feghali, spokesperson for ICRC Yemen, said that the humanitarian situation in all of Yemen is "very difficult...(with) naval, air and ground routes cut off." Feghali described the situation in Aden as "catastrophic to say the least."
"The war in Aden is on every street, in every corner... Many are unable to escape," she said.
And Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Yemen representative Marie-Elisabeth Ingres said that hospitals in Aden in recent days have received fewer casualties, "not because there are no wounded people, but due to the difficulties faced in trying to reach a hospital."