The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and the United Nations (UN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to protect children affected by the country’s five years-long civil war, official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported yesterday.
The agreement, which was said to have aimed at “reinforcing the protection of boys and girls affected by armed conflict in Yemen,” was signed in the Saudi capital of Riyadh by the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, and the coalition’s commander of the joint forces, Major General Fahd Bin Turki Bin Abdulaziz.
“Today’s signature is an important addition to the measures already in place to enhance the protection of boys and girls in Yemen,” Gamba told reporters.
Hailing what she described as “the Arab coalition’s clear commitment,” the UN official said that the accord would lead to “tangible actions for the improvement of the protection of children in Yemen.”
On the UN-led peace deal which was concluded in Sweden last December, Gamba called on the involved parties – Houthi Group and the internationally-recognised Yemeni government – to “implement the Stockholm peace process as a matter of priority and include children at the centre of the discussions.”
On his part, Abdulaziz pointed out that the MoU was concerned with “noble humanitarian aspects,” stressing that his forces would work with the SESG team on “strengthening the goals towards the protection of children in Yemen.”
Impoverished Yemen remains in a state of civil war since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa. On 26 March 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been waging military operations in Yemen against Houthi militants, whom they believe are backed by Iran.
According to UN officials, more than 50,000 people have been killed in the war, while more than 11 per cent of the country’s population has been displaced.