Scores of children killed and wounded as conflict grows in Yemen

A boy stands in front of a destroyed house in Bani Matar village

A school has reportedly been bombed today in the growing conflict in Yemen which has killed dozens of children and wounded scores more.

Officials said the Al Bastain School in Maitam was struck as children were heading for their lunch break. The Houthi-run defence ministry said three students died and added that the target of the Saudi airstrike was a military base 500 yards from the school.

Yemen is on the verge of civil war after after a conflict between several groups. Forces loyal to the president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi have been battling Houthi rebels, who ousted him from the capital Sanaa in February. Now A Saudi-led coalition is bombing Houthi targets after rebels closed in on the president's base in Aden. The picture is further confused by the presence of affiliates of both al Qaede and Islamic State.

The United Nations children's agency UNICEF said yesterday that 74 children were known to have died and 44 wounded so far – but warned that these figures were probably “conservative” and that had many more had died.

Children wait in line to fill their water cans in Aden

UNICEF Yemen Representative Julien Harneis said: “Children are paying an intolerable price for this conflict. They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted.

“These children should be immediately afforded special respect and protection by all parties to the conflict, in line with international humanitarian law.”

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 540 people have been killed and about 1700 injured since the intense violence began on March 19.

More than 16 million Yemenis are now living without electricty and many people are fleeing from the major cities. Robert Mardini, head of operations for the Middle East for the International Committee of the Red Cross, tweeted these messages from there: