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UNICEF: Eight million children out of school in Yemen

September 10, 2020 at 11:36 am

A girl touches clothes hanging out to try on a line hung across a blackboard inside a classroom being used by Yemenis displaced by war as a make-shift shelter, in the third city of Taez on 23 July 2020. [AHMAD AL-BASHA/AFP via Getty Images]

The United Nations Children’s Fund has said that around eight million children are now out of school in Yemen due to the war and Covid-19 pandemic. UNICEF gave the details in a tweet with a video earlier this week to mark International Literacy Day 2020.

“Before Covid-19 hit Yemen,” said the agency, “more than two million children were out of school.” Now, due to the closure of schools around the country, an additional 5.8 million children are out of education. “The longer children are away from school, the more risk they face and the less likely they are to return.”

A UNICEF report in June explained that most public school teachers have not been paid in more than three years. “At least 2,000 schools – one out of eight overall — are unfit for use because of the conflict; either destroyed, used for military purposes or taken over as a shelter for displaced people.”

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, said the agency, 55 schools are being used as centres to isolate potential coronavirus patients.

UNICEF added that there are fears that as the coronavirus takes hold in Yemen, and children are out of school and families are facing greater economic hardship, there could be a spike in children being lured or forced into the fighting.

“Countless childhoods have been lost in this five-year war and we fear we will lose many more as Covid-19 spreads,” said UNICEF Representative in Yemen, Sara Beysolow Nyanti. “Now as the world’s attention focuses on the Covid-19 pandemic I fear the children of Yemen will be all but forgotten… We all have a responsibility to act and help the children of Yemen. They have the same rights of any child, anywhere.”

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