The United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) estimates that two million children are out of school in Yemen, which has been the subject of a destructive Saudi-led military campaign for more than four years.
In a statement released on Wednesday, UNICEF representative in Yemen Sara Beysolow Nyanti said that a fourth of the two million Yemeni children have dropped out since the beginning of the Saudi war in March 2015.
She also warned that the education of a further 3.7 million children is at risk as teachers have not received their salaries for over two years, adding that one fifth of schools in Yemen can no longer be used as a direct result of the conflict.
“Violence, displacement and attacks on schools are preventing many children from accessing school,” Nyanti said.
The UNICEF representative further raised concerns about the future of Yemeni children out of school, saying they “face increased risks of all forms of exploitation including being forced to join the fighting, child labor and early marriage.”
“They lose the opportunity to develop and grow in a caring and stimulating environment, ultimately becoming trapped in a life of poverty and hardship,” she added.
Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a deadly military aggression against Yemen in an attempt to reinstall a Riyadh-backed former regime and eliminate the Houthi movement, which has been defending the country along with the armed forces.
The Western-backed offensive, coupled with a naval blockade, has destroyed the country’s infrastructure.
It has also led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen, with many children suffering from cholera and severe malnutrition.
The Saudi aggression has further displaced millions and left 24.1 million — more than two-thirds of the Yemeni population — in need of aid.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 lives over the past four and a half years.