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UN condemns deaths of seven children in Saudi-led attack in Yemen

Unicef said the Monday strike in Hodeidah, which killed 16 people, was one of country's deadliest for children in years
A Yemeni child who was injured in air strike in the district of al-Hali in Hodeidah province, receive treatment at a hospital on 2 April 2018 (AFP)

Several children were killed in an air strike on Houthi forces gathered in Yemen’s Hodeidah port on Monday, in what the UN has called "one of the deadliest attacks" on minors in the country for years.

"The United Nations has verified the killing of several children in an attack... in the coastal city of Hodeidah in western Yemen," children's agency Unicef said on Monday. 

"Many children are reported missing as the injured and killed are still being pulled out from the rubble." 

The strike, which was believed to have been carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, killed 16 people, including seven children.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said: “We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated as all reports of this nature are - using an internationally approved, independent process. While this is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The UN statement described the attack as "one of the deadliest attacks on children since the conflict in Yemen escalated in March 2015". 

The strike occurred in the district of al-Hali in Hodeidah province, which is controlled by the Houthi movement. 

Yemeni men carry the body of victim who was killed in air strike in the district of Al-Hali in Hodeida province, on April 2, 2018. (AFP)

Hodeidah is home to the impoverished country’s biggest port from where most of the humanitarian aid reaches millions of civilians on the brink of famine.

The operation of the port, controlled by the Houthis, was not affected by the air strike.

The United Nations asked donors on Tuesday for nearly $3bn to help an estimated 13 million people who urgently need aid in war-ravaged Yemen.

"Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis," said the body's secretary general, Antonio Guterres.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in a civil war in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis to restore the government of the internationally recognised president, Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

The coalition is the only force known to carry out air strikes on Houthi-held territory and has previously admitted to "erroneous" strikes that caused civilian casualties. 

The war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than two million and driven the country - already the poorest on the Arabian Peninsula - to the verge of famine.

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