With the ongoing violence in Yemen forcing children and their families from their homes, nine out of ten children in displacement camps don’t have sufficient access to basics like food, clean water and an education, Save the Children said today. The organisation called for full access to displaced communities, to improve services for children in the camps.
Children in the camps, around half of which are within five kilometres of a front line, often have to walk for hours to find safe drinking water and wood for cooking. Many of them have no option but to work in order to help with the family income.
With the conflict in Yemen in its seventh year, some 1.71 million children remain displaced in the country and cut off from basic services. Half a million of them have no access to formal education.
In 2020, an estimated 115,000 children were forced to flee their homes because of the escalating violence, mainly around Marib and the Hodeida, Hajjah and Taiz regions. In 2021 so far, around 25,000 children and their families had to leave their homes.
Xavier Joubert, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen, said:
“Children are the first to suffer the consequences of displacement, and are impacted most. The fighting, the floods that have destroyed shelters of thousands of people, the second wave of COVID-19 and poverty are forcing people to flee - many parents cannot afford even the basics for their children.”
“These boys and girls feel unsafe in their makeshift shelters, and often have to go through the day on an empty stomach. For 523,000 displaced children this also means they can’t go to class. Every day without education chips away from their future.”
Leyla, 11, lives in a displacement camp in Lahj with her younger brother and her parents.
“In Hodeida, we used to have our own house. Here, there is no security and the shelter is not good. The tent doesn’t make me feel safe. Last year we had a home, kitchen, a fridge, toilet and water, but here we have nothing. The most difficult thing is that we don’t have water, money or clothes.”
Elham*, 22, is a volunteer teacher of Save the Children who lives and works at the same camp.
“The situation is very difficult for women and girls here in the camp. Just going to the bathroom at night is a challenge. They are far from our tents, there is no light on the street and many men are hanging around. We don’t feel safe. We have to gather into groups of three or take a male relative just to go to the toilet,” she says.
“Children are dropping out of school because they have to work to support their families. Several days ago, a 10 year-old boy got electrocuted while he was working. He is still in the hospital fighting for his life.”
Save the Children is providing informal education, water and sanitation services in several camps across Yemen. However, the organization flags more has to be done to improve and increase access for humanitarian actors to displaced communities, and ensure that they have the basics and their children are protected.
Save the Children is calling on all parties to the conflict to immediately cease all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including schools and hospitals, and respect International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law in their conduct of hostilities. We also urge donors to increase their financial and diplomatic support to children and their families in Yemen.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.