Women wait with children before medical examinations at Al Janatain Charity Medical Centre, which helps the impoverished, in Yemen's Houthi-rebel-held capital Sana'a on March 14, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

DUBAI: The UN warned Friday it could be forced to slash support for children in Yemen without a funding boost, a war-torn country where it said dozens already die daily from “preventable causes”.

“More than 540,000 children under the age of five (are) suffering life-threatening severe acute malnutrition, with one child continuing to die every 10 minutes from preventable causes,” the UN children’s agency Unicef said.

“If funding is not received, Unicef might be forced to scale down its vital assistance for vulnerable children,” it added in a statement, released ahead of the eight-year anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in the war.

Yemen’s war broke out in 2014 and quickly saw Iran-backed Houthi rebels seize the capital Sana’a, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.

Saudi-led forces launched their first assaults against Houthi positions on March 26 2015.

A truce expired last year, but fighting has remained largely on hold.

More than 11,000 children are known to have been killed or maimed since the conflict escalated in 2015.

A total of 11 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance, Unicef says.

It said it requires $484 million to continue assistance this year, but the UN raised only $1.2 billion for all its agencies in Yemen at a pledging conference in Switzerland last month, well short of the $4.3 billion target.

“The funding gap Unicef continued to face through 2022 and since the beginning of 2023 is putting the required humanitarian response for children in Yemen at risk,” it said.

Fighting in Yemen has triggered what the UN describes as one of the world’s worst humanitarian tragedies.

The UN says more than 21.7 million - two-thirds of Yemen’s population - need humanitarian assistance this year.