Yemen's forgotten children: The urgent case for funding education and child protection

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Children’s lives have been torn apart after two years of brutal armed conflict in Yemen. They have been bombed, starved and denied the chance to go to school with a staggering 10.3 million children in need of humanitarian and protection assistance.

As the war continues, children’s prospects of survival are being diminished day-by-day. Over 4,000 children have been killed or injured as a direct consequence of the conflict, while every ten minutes a child under five dies due to preventable causes, including malnutrition. An estimated half a million children are at risk of dying from malnutrition if they do not urgently receive appropriate treatment.

The conflict has disrupted every aspect of daily life, and the most vulnerable groups, which includes children, continue to pay the heaviest price. More than a million children are currently internally displaced and double that number are out of school, meaning a quarter of school-aged children are missing out on an education. This is having a devastating impact on their futures and the future of Yemen.

In spite of clear violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws committed during the past two years by all parties to the conflict, a lack of accountability has resulted in a complete disregard of international standards associated with the protection of civilian lives and infrastructure.
Humanitarian access is routinely hampered, which continues to have a negative impact on the health, protection and well- being of children throughout the country. Schools have also regularly been attacked – currently, more than 1,600 schools remain damaged, occupied or closed – which has contributed to the ongoing crisis in the education sector.

Despite the magnitude of the humanitarian and protection crisis, the international response to date has been wholly inadequate. The 2016 UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen was only 60 per cent funded, and at time of writing, funding for this year’s plan is just 14 per cent of the US$2.1 billion required.

In particular, education and protection are seriously underfunded. Of the US$108.7 million requested for the two sectors in 2017, only US$6.3 million has been pledged.9 Funding for food security and nutrition is crucial. But in order to ensure children’s current and future development, well- being and safety we must also invest in education and protection. We have to learn the lessons of other conflicts and fund interventions in these areas now, before we lose a generation of psychologically scarred and uneducated children.