Yemen: Tens of thousands of children denied access to education after a single month of attacks on schools
Five attacks on schools in Yemen in March of this year have left an estimated 30,600 children[i] without access to education, further exacerbating an education crisis in the country, according to data analysed by Save the Children.
This is more than twice the number of attacks on education facilities reported in the last quarter of 2020. In total, more than two million children are out of education and at least 2,500 education facilities are affected by the war.
Escalating violence in areas such as Taiz have resulted in the deadliest quarter for children in almost two years, with 50 killed or injured in this region alone from January to March of this year.
In March, schools in Taiz were reportedly hit in four shelling attacks, three of which resulted in 11 civilian casualties, including four children[ii]. Another attack took place in the capital of Sana’a, where a school was reportedly hit by an airstrike. Such attacks can set back the education of children in the area for years, or even the rest of their lives.
“After the war started I got displaced twice. It was three years ago when I was at school in Hodeida and an airstrike hit my school’s neighbourhood. The bomb exploded next to our school. Everyone was very scared and the school got damaged,” 15-year-old Bushra* told Save the Children.
“We couldn’t go back to school for a week after that and even then there were more and more attacks on schools, so all schools in the area stopped operating. War-planes were flying above our heads all the time and the area was full of armed people. I started feeling very afraid,” she said.
Children in Yemen continue to pay the price of this war, including with their lives. Earlier this month, reports[iii] stated that five children were killed and 12 were injured on some of the deadliest frontlines in Hodeida, Saada and Ma’rib. Just last week, Save the Children staff in Taiz reported that two more children were injured during shelling. In the past three years, nearly 1 in 4 civilian casualties have been children.
Yousif*, 13, was severely injured in a shelling attack in Hodeida late last year. He now cannot move one of his hands due to a severe shrapnel wound. Two of his friends died in the attack. Yousif* is still struggling to recover from this experience and the other injuries he sustained.
Yousif’s* father, Naser, told Save the Children:
“I was at work. Then my son finished his breakfast and went to play football with his friend in a backyard next to the house. [When he returned to the house] shelling hit the backyard, and a group of boys who were playing football were injured. One of my sons called me, when I was at work. He told me that my younger son was injured in a second attack while trying to help others injured.
“Men leave their houses to find jobs and while they are away they are worried that they may come back to see their families killed.”
Xavier Joubert, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen said:
“Attacks against schools not only put children’s lives in danger but also destroy their dreams for a better life. Schools should be a safe haven for children, not a battleground. The warring parties along with their international allies have a responsibility in protecting them and their futures.
“Our teams on the frontlines continue to work tirelessly trying to make sure that children are protected from grave violations. However, we continue to receive hundreds of cases of children being injured in targeted attacks against civilians, perpetrated by all sides of the conflict.
Save the Children is calling on all parties to the conflict to cease all attacks against schools and fully implement a ceasefire as soon as possible, in order to end violations of children’s rights and work towards a sustainable peace and a political solution.”
*Names changed to protect identities
[i] Based on a survey of 9,000 households in the areas where the schools were attacked, calculating the number of children per households as 4 according to national fertility data (https://datacommons.org/place/country/YEM?utm_medium=explore&mprop=fertilityRate&popt=Person&cpv=gender%2CFemale&hl=en ), then deducting 15% as the estimated number of children under 5 years according to demographic data (http://www.emro.who.int/child-adolescent-health/data-statistics/yemen.html).
[ii] CIMP daily updates
[iii] CIMP daily updates
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