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A Boy Scarred by Yemen's War Takes His First Steps Toward Healing
Yemen's civil war continues to exact a terrible toll on its children. Their homes, neighborhoods and schools have been decimated along with the municipal infrastructure — hospitals, water supply and food systems — kids need to grow up healthy and strong. Unexploded ordinances and landmines in villages, farmland and on roads mean that danger lies around every corner. No place is safe.
More than 8,600 children have either been killed or injured since conflict in Yemen escalated five years ago. According to a United Nations task force, among them are 149 children who were killed when they stepped on landmines. Another 579 children have been maimed by landmines, devastating their lives and those of their caregivers.
Many of these children must make do with ill-fitting prosthetic limbs that are sometimes barely functional. But not 6-year-old Rayan, who since losing his leg has had to sit while watching other children play. Now, thanks to UNICEF’s victim assistance project in Aden, Rayan is getting a new prosthetic leg and all the physical therapy and emotional support he needs to learn how use it.
"Five years are enough for Yemen's people to live in war," says Dr. Jawharah Al Ajawi. As coordinator of the victim assistance project, she helps arrange the free transportation, accommodations and services provided to the children and families served. "It's enough for my children."
Since the war began, UNICEF has been on the ground in Yemen helping to provide protection, nutrition, safe water, sanitation and education — and keep the hopes of Yemeni children like Rayan alive.
But COVID-19 in Yemen has complicated the work of providing relief to the families and children living through the world's worst humanitarian crisis. As of June 2020, UNICEF's $479 million appeal to sustain basic essential services for children in Yemen is only 38 percent funded. Urgent support is needed to keep UNICEF's essential programs up and running.
Top photo: Thanks to UNICEF's victim assistance project in Aden, which provides prosthetic limbs to children maimed in Yemen's civil war, Rayan, 6, has a chance to live a fuller, happier life.