London – UNICEF has warned that war in Yemen may deprive a generation of Yemeni children of education, putting them at greater risk of being married off or recruited as child soldiers.
UNICEF Representative in Yemen, Mertixell Relano said that months of unpaid salaries have affected over three-quarters of the impoverished country’s teachers, which means that up to 4.5 million children may not finish the school year.
Speaking during a press conference in Sanaa, Relano said: “At the moment we have more than 166,000 teachers in the country that have not received a salary since October last year. This is more or less 73 percent of the total number of teachers in the country.”
“Those children that are not in school, they are at risk of being recruited (for military service), or the girls might be at risk of being married earlier,” she added.
A report by Reuters said that public sector employees in Houthi-controlled areas have not received their salaries for seven months, which made travel to work and paying for basic necessities more difficult.
Reuters quoted Hoda Al Khoulani, a teacher at a children’s school in Sanaa, as saying: “Money is the backbone of life.”
“Without it, I don’t think anyone can live and there will be suffering. We’re almost begging.”
A report by UNICEF in February said that the organization has rehabilitated eight schools during that month, bringing the total number of schools renewed by UNICEF to 618, allowing more than 456,000 children to access education during the 2016-2017 school year.
Two years of conflict in Yemen have left families resorting to extreme measures to support their children, UNICEF said in a report released last month.
“Coping mechanisms have been severely eroded by the violence, which has turned Yemen into one of the largest food security and malnutrition emergencies in the world,” the report noted.