The Yemen war, a "hell on earth" for children

The Yemen war, a

The United Nations Children's Fund regional director says local Yemeni authorities are making it "impossible" for the delivery and distribution of much-needed humanitarian aid in Yemen and warned that impeding relief efforts could accelerate starvation conditions.

On Friday, the coalition said it had attacked ballistic missile and drone sites at the global airport of the Yemeni capital.

Yemeni officials say fighting has escalated around the key port city of Hodeida, with more than 150 combatants killed over the weekend from both the rebel and government-backed side.

Geert Cappelaere, regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at United Nations children's agency Unicef, called on the warring parties to join proposed peace talks later this month and agree to a ceasefire.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to push back the Houthis and return President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

Children under five are at particular risk of dying from severe malnutrition as well as preventable diseases such as measles, cholera and diphtheria. The killing prompted critics to urge an end to American arms sales to the kingdom and a reappraisal of US military support for the Saudi-led Arab coalition that has been bombing Iranian-supported Houthi rebels, sometimes at the expense of killing civilians. In the course of this, he demanded an end to fighting, and an immediate halt to all airstrikes against populated areas. He is preparing to visit Taiz, Yemen's third largest city and a flashpoint since the Houthis drove the government out of Sanaa in 2014, according to sources close to the United Nations talks.

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Hodeidah is the only port held by the Houthis and serves as the entry point for the bulk of Yemen's commercial imports and aid supplies.

"The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV (drone) strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE".

According to the World Health Organization, almost 10,000 people have since been killed.

The coalition sent reinforcements to the west coast on Tuesday for a new assault on Hodeida - a strategic port on the Red Sea - according to Yemeni military officials.

Despite a high-profile modernisation drive aimed at improving Saudi Arabia's image and attracting foreign investment, rights groups have detailed a crackdown on activists, increase in executions and discrimination against the Shiite minority.

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