Al Houthi denies UNICEF's accusations
By Ashwaq Arrabyee
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) condemned using schools by Al Houthi rebels as sites for military operations in the northern Yemeni governorate of Saada.
“Schools should be zones of peace where children can learn and thrive. Using them for military or inappropriate political purposes is a violation of children’s rights and of international humanitarian law,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Representative in Yemen, in a statement released Wednesday following reports that some schools were occupied by armed men.
“Children must be allowed to resume their schooling immediately,” Mr. Cappelaere said.
The siege comes two months after the official end to hostilities between Government forces and rebels in the region which uprooted nearly 300,000 people in recent years.
A ceasefire “brought hope, allowing children to go back to school” and recover a sense of normalcy, Mr. Cappelaere said.
"The rebel occupation of schools is preventing children from attending classes in a country that already has the lowest school enrolment rates in the region," he said.
He called on parties throughout Yemen to ensure the right to quality education.
“Depriving children from this right is detrimental to their well-being and to their country’s future,” he stated.
Al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam denied the accusations of UNCEF that they are using schools for military purposes.
"The UNICEF accusations are false," Al Houhti spokesman said, calling all media to visit Saada and to observe things in reality rather than 'depending on wrong information'.
"We have no interest in staying in school, they are small and mostly destroyed by the war," he said.
He considered these accusations as an attempt from the government to renounce it commitments. He demanded the government to appoint teachers and to start teaching the Yemeni curriculum.