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Three years of war leaves a generation of Yemen’s children out of school

Unicef War In Yemen 4
In Yemen, a displaced boy sits amid the rubble at his family’s destroyed home, in the northern city of Sa’ada (UNICEF / Al-Adimi)

Child soldiers, Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies, Refugees and internally displaced people, Safe schools, Safe Schools Declaration, Teachers and learning

Two million are out of school, hundreds of schools have been damaged in attacks and three in four teachers haven't been paid for a year, a UNICEF report showed.


Three years of conflict in Yemen has wrecked the education of hundreds of thousands of children.

Almost 500,000 have dropped out of school since 2015 – taking the total number out of education to two million, according to UNICEF.

“An entire generation of children in Yemen faces a bleak future because of limited or no access to education,” said Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in Yemen. “Even those who remain in school are not getting the quality education they need.”

An assessment by the United Nations children’s agency titled If Not In School was released yesterday.

Unicef War In Yemen 3

Zahra stands in the rubble of destroyed buildings in the south-western city of Lahj, Yemen (UNICEF / Kamal)

Apart from the out-of-school figures, it revealed that:

  • Almost three-quarters of public school teachers have not been paid their salaries in over a year, putting the education of an additional 4.5 million children at grave risk.
  • More than 2500 schools are out of use, with two thirds damaged by attacks, 27% closed and 7% used for military purposes or as shelters for displaced people.
  • At least 2419 children have been recruited in the fighting since March 2015

“The journey to school has also become dangerous as children risk being killed en route,” said Relaño. 

“Fearing for their children’s safety, many parents choose to keep their children at home. The lack of access to education has pushed children and families to dangerous alternatives, including early marriage, child labour and recruitment into the fighting.”

Noor Al-Ghorbani, an 11-year-old student from the capital Sana’a, said: “My hearing was severely impaired because of the noise of the bombing.

“I cannot hear well, which has affected my studies. I dream of an end to the war in Yemen.”

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Internally displaced children attend a class in a tent school in Ibb, Yemen (UNICEF / Madhok)

Almost three-quarters of women were married before the age of 18, while nearly half were married before 15, according to a 2016 survey across six governorates.

An estimated 1.8 million children under five years and 1.1 million pregnant or nursing women are acutely malnourished, representing a 128% increase since late 2014.

16 million Yemenis, including close to 8.2 million children, need humanitarian assistance to establish or maintain access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

UNICEF called on the warring parties in Yemen, those who have influence on them, government authorities and donors to:

Put an end to the war and all grave violations against children 

UNICEF said: “Peace and recovery are an absolute must if children in Yemen are to resume their schooling and get the quality education they urgently need and are entitled to.

Unicef War In Yemen 5

Children sit in the school yard at the Al faza School in Hodeidah, Yemen, that was badly damaged in the conflict (UNICEF / Abu Monassar)

Pay teachers 

“Education authorities across Yemen should work together and find an immediate solution to provide salaries for all teachers and education personnel so that children can continue to learn.”

Increase funding for education

“The international community, donors and development partners should support incentives for teachers while searching for long-term solutions to the salary crisis in Yemen, and continue supporting the education system.”

Protect children’s education unconditionally

“All parties to the conflict and those with influence on them need to unconditionally commit to stopping attacks against schools to protect children’s education across Yemen. Children and education staff must be kept out of harm’s way and schools must be maintained as safe zones for learning.”

Schools are supposed to be safe havens for children. More than 70 countries have signed up to the Safe Schools Declaration – a commitment to protect education from attack and stop military use of schools. 

Theirworld is calling for the world’s most powerful countries – the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – to join them.


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