Yemen: 3 million children unable to access education, report

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) revealed on Friday that three million Yemeni children are unable to enroll in education this year due to the ongoing conflict in the country.

Katharina Ritz, head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen, posted on Twitter: “With the start of the school year in Yemen, let us not forget that the conflict has destroyed hundreds of schools and made nearly three million children unable to enrol in education this year. Yemeni children, like all children, need to go back to school.”

On 8 August, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that 8.1 million Yemeni children require emergency educational assistance. A week ago, the new school year started in Yemen amid extremely difficult living and health conditions.

For nearly seven years, Yemen has been a stage for a war that has claimed the lives of 233,000 people, while 80 per cent of the population (amounting to 30 million people) have become aid-dependent in order to survive in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN.

The conflict is further complicated by the fact that it has regional extensions. Since March 2015, an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been carrying out military operations supporting government forces against the Iranian-backed Houthis, who control several governorates, including the capital, Sanaa.

Yemenis in Saudi Arabia lose their jobs

In another context, hundreds of Yemenis working in Saudi Arabia have in recent weeks lost their jobs in the kingdom’s southern region without an explanation, Reuters reported.

The agency said hundreds of Yemeni medical staff, academics and other professionals in the kingdom’s southern region bordering Yemen have in recent weeks been told they are being let go without justification.

Reuters said the exact number of those who have been sacked from their jobs is not known.

“Staff said they were not provided justification for government orders to stop renewing the contracts of Yemenis,” it added.

Reuters said the Saudi and Yemeni authorities did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, a Saudi analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the move aimed to free up jobs for Saudi citizens in the south as part of efforts to tackle Saudi unemployment which stands at 11.7 per cent, and is driven by security considerations in area which lies near the kingdom’s border with Yemen where it is engaged in a war.

For his part, a Yemeni government source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the new directives could affect “tens of thousands” of Yemenis. He did not know the reason behind the issuance of these orders.

Data from the Sanaa Centre for Strategic Studies indicate that two million Yemenis work in Saudi Arabia.

Most Yemeni workers send money to their families in Yemen, which is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.

The World Bank estimates that one in ten people in Yemen relies on money sent by expatriates to meet basic needs.

Reports late last month revealed that some Saudi universities had dismissed over a hundred academics after their contracts were terminated and that businesses in the Jazan, Aseer, Baha, and Najran provinces were ordered by local authorities to terminate work contracts and sponsorships of Yemeni expatriates.

According to the Sanaa Centre, Riyadh’s new policy is not just about the Saudisation of its workforce but is also a punitive measure specifically against Yemenis as many rely on financial support from relatives working in the kingdom. They hope it may pressure them into siding against the de facto Houthi-led authorities in the capital Sanaa.