The number of children not in school in Yemen has more than doubled. 1.6 million children were out of school before the conflict started in 2015. That number is now 1.84 million.
1,640 schools have already been closed. That’s 10% of Yemen’s schools.
Yemeni children attend a class on December 27, 2016, at a school that was recently damaged by a Saudi-led air strike in the country’s third largest city of Taiz.
1,470 schools have been destroyed or damaged in attacks. Other schools are now serving as shelters. In some of the attacks, students have been killed. One airstrike by the Saudi-led coaltion in August on a northern Yemen school killed 10 children. Some children are now afraid to go to school.
Yemeni students study in a make-shift classroom in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, on March 15, 2016, after their school was damaged in the country’s ongoing conflict between the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Shiite Houthi rebels.
Roua Ahmed’s school in Taiz was destroyed during an airstrike in September so she briefly tried studying at the local mosque instead. That plan was quickly abandoned due to the fighting in the area. Her family fled the city, traveling almost 7 miles on foot and crossing a valley filled with snipers. The family maid it to the capital Sana’a, where she still cannot go to school because the classes are overcrowded. Roua had dreams of becoming a teacher and now at only 12 years old, cannot attend school anymore.
Overcrowded classes, like Roua has experienced in Sana’a, is a common problem in areas where schools are still operation. Another problem is teachers striking because their wages are not being paid as well as parents being unable to afford school supplies.
A Yemeni school boy looks at a destroyed school in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, on March 15, 2016, which was damaged in the country’s ongoing conflict between the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Shiite Houthi rebels.
According to the UN’s refugee agency, an entire generation might be compromised. And according to a recent report from UNICEF, children dropping out of school can contribute to the cycle of violence. Children who have to abandon their school have to look for jobs, turn to begging, or are recruited as child soldiers. 16 year old Ahmed Salem, who is now living in a displacement camp in Marib, is one of those children out of school trying to help feed his family. One teacher in Taiz says that the war is the perfect situation for groups to radicalize students.
A Yemeni girl sweeps the ground around the university of Aden ahead of the beginning of the academic year in the Khor Maksar neighborhood of the southern port city of Aden on September 4, 2015. More than 13 million children are being denied an education by Middle East conflicts, the UN says, warning ‘the hopes of a generation’ will be dashed if they cannot return to classrooms.
Meanwhile, Roua still dreams of returning to school and says she will be the happiest when the war is over. The memory of her teachers and classmates makes her cry and wishes to return to her calm life.
This story is in French from La Nouvelle Tribune.