Yemen’s conflict has forced its children into a destructive struggle for survival. Fleeing the fighting, hoping to escape the violence, often means abandoning homes, and schools. Parents lose their livelihoods, and entire families end up on the streets, begging.
Saud and her five grandchildren fled the fighting in Taiz and now live in a makeshift shelter in Aden. None of the children are in school.
“It’s five months since we moved here from Taiz because of the war. Me and my grandchildren, five kids” says Saud.
“We beg during the day, and someone gave us this place to stay, so we spend the night here and in the morning we go looking for support.”
“The kids used to study back then, but here they beg from restaurants.”
“Their ages? Just six, seven, and eight years old,” Saud continues. “We don’t get any support except leftovers from restaurants and a bit of money from begging.”
The family’s story is one that is repeated across Yemen: with schools often destroyed in the conflict, and millions of people displaced, education has become an unattainable luxury for many.
Ahmed Mahyoub, who is just 14, loved school, but he does not go anymore. Instead, he washes cars. Ahmed’s father has been injured and cannot work, so Ahmed has dropped out of school, and is supporting his entire family.
It is hard to provide support for my family and go to school at the same time. I would love to go back to school again, but who will support us? My father is ill, so only I can work and bring money in.”
Thousands of other Yemeni children might be more fortunate than Ahmed: their parents are healthy, their income, although small, is enough for education. If only there was a school to go to.
Many schools are either being used as shelters for displaced families or have been taken by armed groups,” explains Mirella Hodeib of the ICRC.
“As per international humanitarian law schools are civilian facilities that must be protected during the fighting, education is not a luxury of peace time.”
The resilience of Yemeni teachers and school children in the face of the obstacles to education is incredible. Across the country, classrooms have been set up in in the ruins of buildings. Most teachers have not been paid for two years, many children have been traumatised by war, but the hunger to learn is immense.
Some children, in other, safer parts of the world, may dream of the moment school ends, but young Ethar Mohammad dreams of when her school will open again.
“We saw falling shells, bullets, and striking airplanes,” says the eight year old.
“Now we cannot study because of the war. I really want my school to be rebuilt so I can study again.”
More than 2,500 schools have been damaged or destroyed by the war (UNICEF).
More than half of public school teachers have not been paid in the past two years.
Many schools also are being used as shelters for displaced people and some have been taken over by armed groups.
In 2018, the ICRC provided 3,735 school children in two schools in Abyan and Saada with school kits.
For further information please contact:
Mirella HODEIB, ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 7391 64666, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara ALZAWQARI, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 3138 353. email@example.com
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