Yemen's Children Dream of Peace
Reports that Yemen's warring parties have agreed to participate in United Nations-sponsored peace talks in Sweden are raising hopes of a ceasefire and eventual resolution to the bloody three-year conflict that has turned the country into a living hell for children.
A child dies in Yemen every 10 minutes from preventable causes, including severe acute malnutrition and vaccine-preventable disease. Basic services like water, health care and sanitation have all but collapsed. With the economy in freefall, parents cannot afford to feed their children.
More than anything, the children of Yemen wish that the fighting would stop, so they could just be children again. Some barely recall life before the conflict began. For others, trips to the market, going to school and playing in the park are only distant memories. Below, five Yemeni children share their dreams of peace.
"Peace means we don't hear people talk about war. It means on TV I can watch cartoons instead of watching people die," 12-year-old Ala'a says, wistfully. "I would like to tell them, 'Do not kill our dreams.' Stop the war so we can enjoy our childhood and achieve our dreams."
"I want the war to stop," says 14-year-old Jalal. "I want everyone to treat each other as brothers. I want to complete my education, so I can become an engineer."
Ayah, 12, dreams of stepping outside unafraid. "I want life to be peaceful," she says. "So that we play peacefully, go to the park, buy the toys we love and go anywhere."
"Peace is something big," says 12-year-old Mohammed. "Without peace, we can't live. I used to go to the markets for shopping before the war. I used to feel safe going to the park or school. Now, I go with my family to the park, but I feel scared going alone. I hope the war will stop soon, so I can go anywhere I want, like the park."
"When there was no war, life was better, but we have fallen apart due to the war, " 9-year-old Sawsan says sadly. "I wanted to achieve my dream, but they have destroyed everything."
"Children have suffered terribly during more than three years of conflict — at least 6,000 have been killed or seriously injured by the fighting, while over 11 million need humanitarian assistance to survive," says UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "All children need peace."
UNICEF has been on the ground since the conflict began, working with partners to provide urgently needed medical care, nutrition, safe drinking water, child protection, education and sanitation and hygiene facilities. For more than 70 years, UNICEF has been putting children first, protecting their rights and providing the assistance and services they need to survive and thrive.
Top photo: In June 2018, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore (not pictured) met with families who have benefited from the Emergency Cash program funded by the World Bank in Sana'a, Yemen. © UNICEF/UN0219803/