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Saudi war on Yemen may put 4.5 million Yemeni children out of school: UNICEF

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Yemeni students study at a classroom in the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, on March 15, 2016, which has been damaged by a Saudi airstrike. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that the ongoing Saudi aggression against impoverished Yemen may deprive a whole generation of children of education this year, cautioning that the consequences of the growing economic plight in Yemen would likely put these children at greater risk of being married off or recruited as child soldiers.

UNICEF Representative in Yemen Mertixell Relano sounded the grim warning at a press conference in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, adding that during the past seven months, more than three-quarters of Yemeni teachers had not received their salaries, which may in turn leave up to 4.5 million children incapable of finishing the school year.

"At the moment, we have more than 166,000 teachers in the country that have not received a salary since October last year. This is more or less 73 percent of the total number of teachers in the country," she said.   

If the affected teachers do not receive their paychecks immediately, these children would be at risk of losing the current school year, and consequently the out-of-school boys would be at risk of "being recruited (for military service), or the girls might be at risk of being married earlier," Relano further said.

Yemeni students enter a make-shift classroom in the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, on March 15, 2016, after their school was damaged by a Saudi airstrike. (Photo by AFP)

The economic crisis largely began last year, when former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, who has occupied Yemen's southwestern port city of Aden with the help of Riyadh, his loyalists and militia, moved the country's central bank from Sana'a to Aden. The current Saudi military campaign has aggravated economic and humanitarian issues in Yemen.

Hadi claimed that the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, which is in control of large swaths of Yemen, including the capital, looted the bank; an allegation that was categorically rejected by the Houthis.

"Money is the backbone of life. Without it, I don't think anyone can live and there will be suffering. We're almost begging," lamented Hoda al Khoulani, a teacher at a children's school in Sana'a.

On Saturday, the UN announced that it would hold a High-Level Pledging Event for the current humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country, co-hosted by Switzerland and Sweden on April 25, as 18.8 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian or protection assistance.

Yemeni students study at a classroom in the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, on March 15, 2016, which has been damaged by a Saudi airstrike. (Photo by AFP)

Since March 2015, Yemen has been heavily bombarded by Saudi warplanes as part of a brutal military campaign against the impoverished country in an attempt to reinstall Hadi and crush the Houthis.

Latest tallies show that the imposed war has so far killed over 12,000 Yemenis and wounded thousands more. The Saudi aggression has also taken a heavy toll on the country's facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

Over the past two years, Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has been running state affairs and defending the nation against Saudi military campaign.

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