Yemeni Children Face Harsh Realities
Since March 2015, a perpetual state of war has existed in Yemen. The nation has been plagued by internal discord and violence, and has suffered extensive infrastructural damage and losses of human lives. While these aspects of the conflict have been widely reported on, coverage on one group—Yemeni children—should continue to increase. Since Yemeni children caught in the crossfire of the conflict are unable to help themselves, they should be given greater attention. While some are recruited to wage war, others are unable to attend school. Furthermore, many suffer from malnourishment and other health concerns. Yemeni youth continue to struggle in shocking ways. Without a major shift in the status quo, their situation will continue to deteriorate.
According to the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), at least 2,419 children have been recruited for the war since its onset in March 2015. Recent coverage by CNN revealed grave anecdotes on horrors encountered by child soldiers. Interviewees described various roles that child soldiers are required to play, ranging from the removal of deceased soldiers to participating in the frontlines. As mentioned in the article, child soldiers can be as young as eleven years old.
Due to the war, children also lack access to stable schools. UNICEF cites If Not In School, a recent report created by the agency itself, in declaring that upward of 2,500 schools are “out of use,” with “two thirds damaged by attacks, 27 percent closed, and 7 percent used for military purposes or as shelters for displaced people.” The agency relays that nearly half a million children have dropped out of school since the conflict began to rapidly deteriorate in 2015. With an indiscriminate, widespread war as it’s backdrop, the lack of access to education is even more harmful.
UNICEF estimates that 1.8 million children under the age of 5 suffer from malnourishment. ABC News relays that eighty percent of the children accounted for suffer severely from malnourishment. With dangerous epidemics, such as cholera, surging cyclically, the introduction of malnourishment worsens the odds of survival. The International Rescue Committee provides a first-hand perspective about the issue of children’s health, as one parent interviewee attests to the perpetual hunger from which his child suffers. While disseminating such anecdotal evidence is becoming more common, and is an important tool for enlightening the international community about the situation on the ground, Yemeni youth will continue to struggle until global policymakers bring about greater international participation to ameliorate these humanitarian issues.