By Nasser Arrabyee/12/08/2010
A UNICEF report said that more than 15 % of the fighters of Al Houthi rebels and tribal militias in northern Yemen were children below 18 years.
68 % of the children interviewed have been subjected to domestic violence, said the report which covered the five conflict-affected areas of Sa’ada, Hajjah, Amran, Al-Jawf and Sana’a.
The report said 8 % of all abused children have admitted exposure to sexual exploitation perpetrated by host communities, aid workers and others.
21 % of children reported that they saw someone being injured or wounded.
10.3% of children have been injured as a direct result of the fighting from both sides of the conflict.
2.1 % of displaced and affected families have indicated that at least one of their children is still missing.
The report, the First Inter-Agency Comprehensive Child Protection Assessment Report in Conflict Affected Areas in the north of Yemen, said illiteracy was very high among fathers and mothers of the children.
73% of fathers and 85% of mothers are illiterate without appropriate learning or educational opportunities, the report said.
The Yemen-based UNICEF representative Geert Cappelaere commented on the report by saying, “ “The content of the report must be a matter of concern for all players in the humanitarian and development landscape.”
“It serves as a clarion call to ensure the immediate end to all hostilities by all parties, urgent scale-up of interventions and effective coordination of child protection responses and a strong call to the international and donor community as well as the government for increased funding allocation in order to ensure the protection of the children of Yemen from all forms of abuse, exploitation and violence,” Mr Cappelaere added.
The report highlights key issues regarding killings, injuries, disabilities, recruitment, detention, domestic violence, separation, abuse as well as sexual and economic exploitation of children.
It also highlighted concrete and key recommendations at all levels for follow up to ensure the protection of children from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation and discrimination.
“The urgent need to unify all efforts between the government of Yemen, UN agencies, and NGOs to assume their responsibilities and address the recommendations of the study,” said the Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, Dr. Amat Elrazzaq Hummad, who attended the launch of the report.
“The government of Yemen and the President strongly support building peace in the North and start a process of reconstruction together with all efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate children who suffered a lot during the last war,” She added.
Mr. Adel Dabwan, director of social protection Department at the ministry of social affairs and labour said the government would follow up on the recommendations in cooperation with UNICEF.
“We are in the process of developing a national strategy on Child Protection in emergencies and we will certainly take into our consideration all the recommendations of the assessment.”
The report, which was launched on August 9th, was jointly compiled by the Child Protection sub-cluster in Yemen, led by UNICEF in collaboration with Yemen Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour as well as other Government Departments and ministries, UN agencies and national and international organizations working in conflict areas.