Remarks on the situation in Yemen by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore at the 8840th meeting of the United Nations Security Council
NEW YORK, August 23, 2021 – âOver six years ago, adults started a war in Yemen. They did so when they knew the terrible toll that violent conflict takes on children.
âThe war in Yemen, now in its seventh year, has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis – a crisis compounded by the health and socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
âSince I last spoke to you about Yemen two years ago in the Security Council Chamber, little has changed for the country’s civilian population. Every day, violence and destruction wreak havoc on the lives of children and their families. displacement, with 1.6 million children now internally displaced as a result of violence, particularly around Hudaydah and Marib.
âBasic services like healthcare, sanitation and education – all of which are vital for the humanitarian response – are incredibly fragile and on the brink of total collapse.
âThe widespread lack of access to safe and sufficient water is of the utmost concern. Internally displaced people are particularly vulnerable to ongoing water cuts on the front lines.
âMeanwhile, Yemen’s economy is in a terrible state. GDP has fallen by 40% since 2015, leading to job losses and falling family incomes. About a quarter of the population, including many doctors, teachers and sanitation workers, depend on civil servants. wages that are paid irregularly, if at all. There is food in Yemen, but those who cannot afford it risk starving to death.
âIn Yemen, a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes, including malnutrition and vaccine-preventable diseases.
âThe education of children in Yemen has also been severely affected by the war. Two million children are out of school and one in six schools can no longer be used. Two-thirds of teachers – over 170,000 teachers in total – did not receive regular salaries. for more than four years due to conflict and geopolitical divisions, putting an estimated four million more children at risk of interrupted education or dropping out of school as unpaid teachers drop out of teaching to find other ways to support their families.
âThese are the numbers. But the numbers don’t really tell us what it is like to be a child growing up in Yemen today.
âBeing a child in Yemen is watching your parents struggle to provide enough food for your family, without which you could starve. It means that if you are lucky enough to have a school to go to, you could be. killed by gunshot, explosion or walking over a mine while walking along the road to get there.
âOr maybe you are one of the children recruited to join the fight, used by a party in a non-combat role, or forced into marriage because your family has no options.
âBeing a child in Yemen means that you have likely experienced or witnessed horrific violence to which no child should ever be exposed. This means that if you survive the war, you could carry the physical and emotional scars with you for the rest of your life. life, compromising your development and your happiness as an adult.
âFighting around your community means that you may not be able to get your polio or measles vaccine. And if you do get sick, there may not be a hospital or clinic where you can get it. make you safe.
âBeing a child in Yemen is having nightmares.
âWe are doing everything we can to help the children get through this ordeal. Alongside our partners, we provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as health, nutrition, protection and education services.
âThese efforts include delivering vaccines and supporting primary health care centers and hospitals to keep them operational. We are responding to COVID-19 and providing emergency cash transfers to 1.5 million households each quarter, benefiting approximately 9 million people.
âAcross the country, UNICEF supports the treatment of acute malnutrition in more than 4,000 primary health care facilities and 100 therapeutic feeding centers. We are working to rehabilitate schools and have provided financial support and supplies for high school students to sit for national exams.
“But none of this is enough given the scale of humanitarian needs amid the ongoing violence.
âOnce again, I call on them to make every effort to keep children safe and meet their legal obligations to keep them out of the line of fire. This includes sparing critical infrastructure that children depend on from attacks – such as and sanitation systems.
âI want to stress that respecting and protecting education, including schools, students and teachers, is of the utmost importance for Yemeni children and youth. We remain gravely concerned about the severity and frequency of threats and attacks on education and the use of schools for the military. purposes.
âAll sides bear responsibility for killing and maiming children and all sides have consistently failed to take the necessary precautions to protect civilians. It must stop.
âSuch efforts are also crucial for demining work to be carried out safely and efficiently.
âYemen imports almost everything, including humanitarian supplies. We need to reopen the port of Hudaydah to commercial imports and fuel. Millions more could be starved if vital imports remain limited.
âThe last time I addressed the Security Council on Yemen was before the pandemic. COVID-19 has further complicated the already dire humanitarian situation. The health care system is hanging by a thread. The economy too. Immunization campaigns across the country must be carried out urgently. widespread, especially with the emergence of highly transmissible variants of COVID-19.
âUNICEF and our partners stand ready to work with the parties to ensure that civil servants’ salaries are paid regularly – a step that would put money back into the pockets of millions, helping families survive . It would also support the functioning of basic services which are essential to a successful humanitarian response.
âLikewise, we must also take measures to increase people’s incomes. This means protecting remittances, which are a lifeline for millions of families and are Yemen’s largest source of foreign exchange.