Endless violence in Yemen results in no new school year

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Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 20 October 2017| 29 Muharram 1439

Endless violence and inability to pay for teachers in Yemen are threatening education for 4.5 million children in the war-torn country, a UNICEF statement said yesterday.

“More than two and a half years of renewed conflict in Yemen have once again put the education of 4.5 million children on the line, adding to the long list of bitter hardships that children have endured,” the statement, which was made by Statement by Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said.

“Three quarters of teachers have not received their salaries in nearly a year and the violence has forced one in ten schools across the country to close,” he added.

“As of July 2017, 1,600 schools have been partially or totally destroyed and 170 have been used for military purposes or as shelter for displaced families. An estimated two million children are out of school,” he said.

He continued:The beginning of the school year was postponed several times from its usual September start and textbooks and other school materials are in severely short supply. The salary crisis has pushed teachers to extreme measures just to survive.

Giving an example, he mentioned the story of Hassan Ghaleb who “is a teacher for the past 20 years and the sole breadwinner for his family of four, was evicted from his home with his children. He had to sell what was left of his furniture just to feed them and treat his sick sister.”

Cappelaere reported Ghaleb asking: “How can I reach school if I have no money for transport? How can I teach if I myself am in need?”

He then stated that “more than 166,000 teachers from across Yemen ask the very same question, every day.”

“For those children who can attend school, malnutrition and the trauma of displacement and violence have seriously affected their ability to learn.”

Without the learning and protective environment that school provides, even more boys and girls in Yemen will be vulnerable to recruitment into the fighting or early marriage – with irreparable consequences on their young lives.

UNICEF called on all parties across Yemen to protect schools, refrain from using education institutes for military purposes and work together to find an urgent solution to the salary crisis so that children can learn.

“As UNICEF works closely with partners to keep the education system from collapsing, we urge donors to step up and enable the payment of incentives to education personnel, health workers and other civil servants who deliver vital services for children.”

“The children of Yemen have suffered in ways that no human being should have to bear. Education is their only way to secure a better future and to help put Yemen on the path to peace.”

Impoverished Yemen has remained in a state of civil war since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sana’a.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at reversing Houthi military gains and shoring up Yemen’s embattled government.

According to UN officials, more than 10,000 people have been killed in the war, while more than 11 per cent of the country’s population has been displaced.

Source – MEMO