A 4 minute clip from CNN International with UNICEF’s regional director Geert Cappelaere. I’m not sure how long this interview actually was because it cuts off mid-word. I’m guessing he was saying drinking water.


Reporter: I know you’ve responded to crises in many parts of the world throughout your career. Talk to me about the unique conditions at play in Yemen which make it the worst humanitarian crisis in the world right now.

Geert Cappelaere: I’m just coming out of Yemen and I have to admit I don’t think there are many worse places to be a child than today in Yemen. Over the last 3 years, over 5,000 children have been killed or seriously injured by a brutal war in Yemen. The Secretary General has quoted a number of other statistics just showing how dire, how life threatening the entire situation is in Yemen and we could add to that even the education challenges today. I saw over 2 million children are not any longer able to go to school. The problem for children in Yemen, the problem for people in Yemen is that this brutal war comes on top of decades of chronic under-development. So is really really one of the worst places today for being a child.

Reporter: And as you laid it out and the Secretary General has as well, the children that are dying, the children that are injured, the children who are out of school. Talk to me about some of the choices parents are being forced to make for their children in these kinds of environments. I know that we’re seeing increasing cases of child marriage.

Geert Cappelaere: Absolutely. We estimate today that more than 80% of Yemen’s population lives in deep poverty with little to no income and that means for every single parent, the few dollars they still have have to spent either to provide some food for the family, to provide some drinking water which costs an awful lot of money. Very many parents have to make the choice to talk their children off school, whatever that is school still available because they can’t afford it anymore. They will also see very negative coping mechanism where, again, the children are the first and most important victims. You see parents making the hard choice to have the children going to beg or to work. I have never seen in Sana’a as many begging children as I have seen over the last week. The same for Aden. The same for Hodeidah. Parents have to make the choice to marry their girls at a very young age. Today half of the girls are married before age 15.

Reporter: Gosh. It is truly tragic. It is considered the world’s forgotten war. Geert, tell me what UNICEF is able to do. I know that humanitarian access is limited, but tell me how much of a difference you are making.

Geert Cappelaere: Well we have four teams working hard 24/7 throughout Yemen, in all parts of Yemen, trying to provide life-saving assistance to children. We have another cholera outbreak looming with the rainy season coming in a couple of weeks time. So we are working very hard with our partners to ensure at least in those districts most affected, we get children vaccinated against cholera. We are trying to guarantee that children get access to drinking water.

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