The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is voicing grave concern about the situation in southern Yemen after a steady increase in the number of violent clashes between Government troops and militants in recent weeks. As many as 15,000 people – most of whom are children – have been displaced by the recent clashes, which are based around Mayfa’a district in Shabwah governorate. Air strikes have been reported, UNICEF said yesterday. Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s representative in Yemen, said the humanitarian impact of the fighting on civilians was extremely worrying. “Children have been injured in the fighting and continue to be at risk from unexploded ordnances, landmines and other explosive remnants of war,” he said. “Schools that have just re-opened have been disrupted because school buildings are being used to host displaced people.” The agency and its aid partners are providing immediate assistance to about 700 displaced families with the aim of helping them to return to their village of Al-Hauta. School closures, water shortages and a lack of proper nutrition are all hampering efforts to assist the displaced, UNICEF noted. Mr. Cappelaere urged all parties to the conflict to place the well-being of children first. “Political, security and other considerations should never get in the way of providing essential help to children,” he said. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also voiced concern late last month about the situation in southern Yemen, as well as the ongoing conflict in the country’s north, where more than 300,000 people are displaced. 2 October 2010The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is voicing grave concern about the situation in southern Yemen after a steady increase in the number of violent clashes between Government troops and militants in recent weeks.