Here's How UNICEF Is Helping Children in Yemen

December 22, 2020

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After nearly six years of conflict, Yemen has become the world's largest humanitarian crisis. Now, with COVID-19 spreading, the country is facing an emergency inside an emergency. Eighty percent of Yemen's population — 24 million people —  are living in poverty and deprivation, with more than 12 million children in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 

 

UNICEF has been on the ground in Yemen since the crisis began, working to save children's lives, help them recover from the impact of war and ensure that they can get back to learning and playing.

 

 Children sit in front of a house damaged by an air strike inside the old city of Sana'a, Yemen. UNICEF works with partners to educate children about the dangers of unexploded remnants of war. © UNICEF/UNI220712/Romenzi

 

Health care and nutrition support

Yemen has long battled some of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. "We've been warning since July that Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food security crisis," Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen said in October. One in five children in parts of Yemen are estimated to be acutely malnourished and in urgent need of treatment. UNICEF and partners work with local health workers to screen and treat children for malnutrition, starting with the most vulnerable, providing timely assessments, essential Ready-to-Eat Therapeutic Food and medical supplies. 

 

In Yemen's Hajjah Governate, a UNICEF-supported community health worker checks a baby's mid-upper arm circumference to assess her nutritional health. The red zone indicates a circumference of less than 11.5 centimeters, signalling a potentially fatal level of malnutrition. © UNICEF/UN0318650/Almahbashi

 

Water, sanitation and hygiene

The threat of cholera and acute watery diarrhea continues to loom high in Yemen. In 2017, the country experienced a devastating cholera outbreak. Working with partners, UNICEF has scaled up emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance, building capacity of local WASH authorities, solarizing water systems and harvesting rainwater. In 2021, UNICEF aims to reach 6.8 million people with access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, and 5.9 million people with critical WASH supplies and hygiene education on how to stay safe from disease. 

 

The job of fetching a family's water often falls to the daughters. Above, a girl takes a break on the way to a water point at a camp for internally displaced persons in Aden, Yemen. © UNICEF/UN0262513/Abdulhaleem

 

Education

As the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, at least 2 million children across Yemen are out of school. UNICEF is adamant about helping these children get back to learning so they can create a better future for themselves and for their nation. With the support of partners, UNICEF is continuing to rehabilitate damaged school buildings and establishing temporary safe learning spaces where children can resume their educations. UNICEF is also providing cash incentives to teachers and school-based staff and educational supplies to keep children learning. Despite the challenges, in 2021 UNICEF aims to provide 850,000 children with access to formal and nonformal education, including early learning. 

 

Displaced from his home in Taiz, Yemen, 12-year-old Azmi is continuing his education in Aden City, Yemen, with support from UNICEF. © UNICEF/UN0188088/Fuad

 

Cash assistance

In an effort to prevent the country from economic collapse and help families struggling to survive amidst spiraling inflation, UNICEF established the Yemen Emergency Cash Transfer (ECT) program in 2017. The ECT project gives dignity and choice to financially vulnerable families so they can prioritize their most urgent purchasing needs, such as food, medicine and warm clothing for their children. 

 

A family from Amran Governate in Yemen shares lunch. The family used money they received through the Emergency Cash Transfer project to purchase food. © UNICEF/UN0326764/

 

As the conflict in Yemen drags on, UNICEF continues to take every measure possible to protect the rights and safety of millions of Yemeni children. But UNICEF can't do it alone. There is an urgent need for individuals, organizations and governments to come together and take action. Every child in Yemen deserves a safe and happy childhood. Please give generously. 

 

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Top photo: Children sit outside their tent at Al-Meshqafah camp for displaced persons in southern Yemen's Lahj Governate. © UNICEF/UN0320192/Baholis