Yemen air attacks.jpg
Photograph: EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

Almost 10 million Yemeni children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance as the conflict continues to destroy the impoverished country, taking a heavy toll on children, UNICEF said in a report published Tuesday.

The UN agency warned that Yemen, which had been already the poorest country in the region in the previous years, is on the brink of collapse as the fighting between Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition supporting the government has reached the one-year mark.

"It's become one of the worst places to be a child in the world," said David Morley, president and chief executive of UNICEF Canada. "The conflict in Yemen has gone from bad to worse."

UNICEF said it had verified more than 1,500 incidents of grave violations against children that have killed more than 900 children and injured at least 1,300 since March 2015.

"The wider conflict means that 10 million children are in urgent need of some kind of support: from water to schooling to nutrition," Morley said.

The report noted a rise in the recruitment of child soldiers to serve in active fighting roles such as manning checkpoints and carrying arms.

"Children are paying the highest price for a conflict not of their making," said Julien Harneis, UNICEF's representative in Yemen.

"They have been killed or maimed across the country and are no longer safe anywhere in Yemen. Even playing or sleeping has become dangerous."

UNICEF called on all parties to the conflict to immediately stop indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian structures including schools and hospitals.

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