OP-ED

Children in Yemen Denied Rights to Education and Protection

National Yemen

Child has been taken by father to pro-Saleh square

By National Yemen

Despite the increased attention paid to Yemen’s humanitarian situation, children are still being denied the right to education and protection from violence, abuse and exploitation.

Ms. Sana Johnson, the Regional Director of Save the Children Sweden, said, “the armed conflicts and civil unrest in several parts of the country means that children are denied their basic rights to education and protection. The lives of children are disrupted and psychological traumas are common as children see and hear what is happening. Also boys and girls who have not been directly caught in violence or had to flee their homes are being affected as many schools are closed.”

The recent crisis in Yemen has an impact on far more than those who are directly caught up in armed conflict or civil unrest. Many children in Yemen have had very sporadic schooling during the past year – it is estimated that 200 schools are used for other purposes than education such as hosting internally displaced people and being used as bases by combatants, and that another 300 have been destroyed by armed conflict. This alone means that 500,000 children have their education disrupted but doesn’t yet count the around 100,000 school aged children that are displaced.

Children that are displaced by conflict or living in areas of unrest face many protection concerns. The UN Security Council has listed Yemen as a country in which armed actors use children – mainly boys are at risk. Girls on the other hand are subject to early marriage, as many parents believe that they will be safer this way, though early marriage is a main cause of high maternal and infant mortality due to the health risks for girls delivering babies when their bodies are not fully developed.

Save the Children published in 2011 its annual State of the World’s Mothers report that presents the annual Mothers’ Index. The report ranks 164 countries – in both the developed and developing world – to show where mothers face best and where they face the greatest hardships. Yemen was one of the 10 bottom and worse countries to be a mother.The 10 bottom-ranked countries in this year’s Mothers’ Index are a reverse image of the top 10, performing poorly on all indicators. More information can be found on Save the Children’s website.