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Yemen Children Face Wasteland of Death, Destruction

FILE - Children ride on the back of a pick-up truck with their luggage as they flee Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, April 6, 2015.

The U.N. Children’s Fund warns that millions of children in Yemen are facing violence, disease and deprivation, as that country’s long-running civil war shows no signs of abating.

The U.N. children’s fund says constant bombardment by Saudi-led coalition forces and street fighting between pro-government soldiers and Houthi rebels is exacting a heavy price on children.

UNICEF reports more than 740 children have been killed and more than 1,100 wounded since the start of Saudi Arabian airstrikes against Houthi rebels last March. The agency also says all armed groups are pressing children into active service.

It says it has confirmation at least 724 children are being used as soldiers to fight in battle or for other military activities, including as scouts, guards and runners.

UNICEF reports children make up at least half of the country’s 2.3 million internally displaced people and more than 19 million people struggling to get water on a daily basis.

Spokesman Christof Boulierac tells VOA 1.3 million children under five are at risk of acute malnutrition and acute respiratory tract infections.

“More worrying, 192 nutrition centers, closed because of the conflict, putting 350,000 children at risk of severe, acute malnutrition. We have admitted 166,000 children under five years old to therapeutic care for severe, acute malnutrition so far and we have provided micro-nutrient interventions to 4.1 million children under five," said Boulierac.

UNICEF estimates nearly 10 million children are affected by the civil war.

It says at least two million children are unable to go to school. It warns children are at risk of dying from preventable diseases because hospitals are not functioning and medicines are in short supply.

It says the Saudi-led coalition blockade of Yemen is preventing fuel, food, medicines, and other vital commodities from entering the country and reaching people in desperate need.