Two million children are currently out of school in war-torn Yemen as the new school year is about to start, and the figure includes almost half a million who pull out since the conflict started in 2015, according to a statement released Wednesday by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
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In addition, the organization said that the education of another 3.7 million children now is uncertain as teachers’ salaries have not been paid in over two years.
“Conflict, underdevelopment, and poverty have deprived millions of children in Yemen of their right to education, and of their hope for a brighter future. Violence, displacement, and attacks on schools are preventing many children from accessing school. With teacher salaries going unpaid for over two years, education quality is also at stake,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.
The country's already fragile education system has been devastated by the conflict as one in five schools in Yemen is out of service as a direct result of the war.
“Thirty years since the Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified, it is unacceptable that education and other fundamental child rights are out of reach for children in Yemen all because of man-made factors,” said Nyanti.
“Children out of school face increased risks of all forms of exploitation including being forced to join the fighting, child labor, and early marriage. They lose the opportunity to develop and grow in a caring and stimulating environment, ultimately becoming trapped in a life of poverty and hardship,” added Nyanti.
UNICEF has been calling for the international community donors, development partners, and the education authorities across Yemen to intervene in urgent and joint efforts to prevent an entire generation of Yemeni from growing without their basic right to education.
Its statement also recalled that attacks on education facilities, children and their teachers are a grave violation against children and breach International Humanitarian Law.
The endless Yemeni civil war started on March 26, 2015, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of countries in a military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen in support of the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi.
The conflict has since killed at least 100,000 people and put more than 24 million in grave need of assistance due to a possible risk of starvation. The UN said the country is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.