The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says education of children in Yemen has become one of the greatest casualties of the destructive Saudi-led military campaign over the past six years, warning that more than six million children in the impoverished country are at risk of losing education.
UNICEF said in a new report, ‘Education Disrupted: Impact of the conflict on children’s education in Yemen’, published on Monday, that over 2 million school-age Yemeni girls and boys have already dropped out of school as poverty, conflict and lack of opportunities disrupted their education.
According to the report, more than 170,000 teachers (two-thirds of the teachers in Yemen) have not received their regular salaries for more than four years because of the conflict, which has prompted them to quit teaching and look for other ways to provide for their families.
This will put around four million additional children at risk of disrupting their education or dropping out of school, it added.
“Access to quality education is a basic right for every child, including for girls, displaced children and those with disabilities,” said Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Yemen.
He added, “The conflict has a staggering impact on every aspect of children’s lives, yet access to education provides a sense of normalcy for children in even the most desperate contexts and protects them from multiple forms of exploitation. Keeping children in school is critical for their own future and the future of Yemen.”
The UN agency warned that the combined effects of the prolonged conflict, in addition to the recent disruption of education activities in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to "devastating and long-lasting" effects on the educational process, including learning as well as the mental and physical well-being of children and adolescents in Yemen.
The report called for all stakeholders in Yemen to support children’s right to education and work together to achieve lasting and inclusive peace.
It emphasized that attacks on schools – there have been 231 since March 2015 – should be stopped and teachers should be assured that they would a regular income so that children can continue to learn and grow.
The report also called on international donors to support education programs with long-term funding.
In a statement on Wednesday, the World Bank said it has allocated 150 million dollars in what it described as humanitarian aid to Yemen, which has been the target of a brutal Saudi-led war for more than six years.
The international financial institution said that the fund would go toward providing essential health and nutrition services to 3.65 million Yemenis, water and sanitation services for another 850,000, and training 3,000 health workers.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies — including the United Arab Emirates — launched a brutal war against Yemen in March 2015 to eliminate Ansarullah and restore the former regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to power.
Yemeni armed forces have, however, gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.
The Saudi-led military aggression has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions of people. The Saudi war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories.