Child Rights Violations in Pandemic Struck Yemen

Child Rights Violations in Pandemic Struck Yemen

Author: Kaanchi Ahuja
Content Contributor | Leagle Samiksha

Introduction:

Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than 24 million people in the need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 12 million children. Since the conflict escalated in March 2015, the country has become a chaos for children.

Children are the primary victims of the crisis. According to the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations from March 2015 to March 2019 more than 7522 children have been verified as killed or maimed since the start of the conflict. More than 3309 boys have been recruited into the armed force groups[1].

Thousands of families become refugees and look for security in the displaced person camps. Fleeing the violence in the north of the country, the people are left in destitute due to problems associated with managing a large number of people.

In 2018 the committee task force on monitoring and reporting verified 1321 incidents of great violation against children. The escalation of hostilities in Al Hudaydah governorate Resulted in a dramatic increase of children killed and injured because of the conflict.[2]

Magnified Effect of COVID-19:

With COVID-19 spreading rapidly, Yemen is facing an emergency within an emergency. Sanitation and clean water are in short supply, health facilities lack basic equipment like mask, gloves, oxygen cylinders and other essential requirements to treat the coronavirus patients. Many health workers are also not receiving any salaries[3].

Before the outbreak of Coronavirus Pandemic over a million children were out of school. But now because of the pandemic, schools have been closed around the country, leaving some 7.8 million children unable to access education[4]. As COVID-19 spreads tens of thousands of children could develop life-threatening deformities with acute malnutrition issues over the next six months, while the overall number of malnourished children under the age of five would increase to a total of 2.4 million[5].

Problems faced by the Children:

The problems faced by children in Yemen are multifarious in nature and some of them are:

  • Poverty 

In Yemen, which is one poorest of the countries of the Middle East, nearly 1 in 2 residents are living below the poverty line.[6] The living condition of residents can differ according to the region in which they live. In every case, children are the most vulnerable to face the brunt of poverty. Their health, well-being and even survival are seriously affected.

  • Infant Health

The infant mortality rate in Yemen is very high and it is also not surprising that many newborn reflect inadequate weight at birth. 30% of the births are unreported in Yemen as they often happen outside the medical centres, which is also a very risky situation for the child and the mother.

Malnutrition is also one of the major problems in Yemen and the harmful consequences of malnutrition on the health of young Yemenis are numerous. For example, nearly 1/3rd of children between two and five years old suffer from serious retardation[7].

  • Right to Education

More than a quarter of children are not educated in Yemen. For them, the educational establishments are unhealthy and the structures are insufficient and in poor conditions[8]. The presence of armed forces in the country makes travel to school difficult and dangerous. The parents are often frightened to let their children go to school and end up letting them stay at home[9].

Schools are also the target of threats for the armed forces who do not hesitate to intimidate the opposing parties by pointing the guns at the schools. To assure the security of children, certain schools do not have any choice except to close, thereby preventing the children from enjoying the right to education.[10]

  • Child labour and Trafficking

Child labour is an everyday reality for around 23% of children between the age group of five and fourteen years old in Yemen[11]. The prevalence of forced labour in this country is all the more serious as the abuse of the children is abundant. The trade of children is still prevalent to the present day in Yemen.

Sometimes it is even the families that put their children in the trafficking networks[12]. In particular, there has recently been an increase in child sexual exploitation through certain practices such as child pornography and tourist marriage[13].

  • Child marriages

The practice of child marriage is very popular in Yemen. It is estimated that more than 30% of young girls are married before the age of 18. Pregnant at the age of 15, these girls are forced to live an extremely hard life and delivery of the child is sometimes fatal to them because of the young age.[14] Inability to choose the husbands makes these young brides vulnerable to be confronted with marital violence.

Conclusion:

The serious violations of numerous rights guaranteed by the UDHR, ICCPR and ICESCR are very rarely reported and practically never sanctioned. The principal motive of this impunity resides in the Yemeni legislation which doesn’t care for these types of crimes. Finally, no specific protection of minors who are victims of violence and armed conflict is implemented in this country. The country continues to execute minors in complete violation of the fundamental rights.

Children continue to be killed and maimed in the conflict, while the damage on the closure of schools and hospitals has disrupted access to education and health services, leaving children even more vulnerable and robbing them of their futures.UNICEF has been working diligently and aims to strengthen the protective environment for all children and youth. However, the results are far from being seen in Yemen.


[1] UNICEF, 2019 concludes a ‘deadly decade’ for children in conflict, with more than 170,000 grave violations verified since 2010, United Nations organisations (July 16, 11:45 AM), https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/2019-concludes-deadly-decade-children-conflict-more-170000-grave-violations-verified

[2] UNICEF, UNICEF Yemen Humanitarian Situation Report, United Nations Organisation ( July 16, 2020, 8:00 PM), https://www.unicef.org/appeals/files/UNICEF_Yemen_Humanitarian_Situation_Report_December_2018.pdf

[3] UNICEF, Statement on Yemen by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, United Nations Organisations ( July 15, 2020, 10:00 AM), https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/statement-yemen-principals-inter-agency-standing-committee-0

[4] Jason Miks and John McIlwaine, Keeping the world’s children learning through COVID-19, UNICEF ( July 16, 2020, 11:00 AM), https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/keeping-worlds-children-learning-through-covid-19

[5] UNICEF, ‘What will a return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic look like?’, United Nations Organisation ( July 16, 2020, 3:00 PM), https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/what-will-return-school-during-covid-19-pandemic-look

[6] The World Bank, The World Bank In Yemen, United Nations Organisation ( July 17, 2020, 11:00 AM), https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/yemen/overview

[7] UNICEF, Yemen: Key demographic indicators, United Nations Organisation (July 17, 2020, 10:AM), https://data.unicef.org/country/yem/

[8] Humans Right Watch, The Education Deficit (July 17, 1;30 PM), https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/06/09/education-deficit/failures-protect-and-fulfill-right-education-through-global

[9] UNICEF, Every Child’s Right To Be Heard, United Nations Organisation (July 16, 2020, 11:00 PM), https://www.unicef.org/files/Every_Childs_Right_to_be_Heard.pdf

[10] Save The Children, THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION (July 18, 2020, 10:00 AM), https://www.savethechildren.org.nz/what-we-do/the-issues/education/

[11] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, The Health Impact of Child Labor in Developing Countries: Evidence From Cross-Country Data, NCBI (July 17, 2020, 10:50 PM) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1781398/

[12] UNICEF, A child is a child, United Nations Organisation 9Ju;y 17, 2020, 3:00 PM) https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/UNICEF_A_child_is_a_child_May_2017_EN.pdf

[13] The DOHA Declaration: Promoting a culture of lawfulness,  Trafficking in Persons & Smuggling of Migrants, UNODC 9 July 17, 2020, 9:10 AM), https://www.unodc.org/e4j/en/tip-and-som/module-6/key-issues/the-purpose-of-exploitation.html

[14] UNICEF, Ending CHILD MARRIAGE: Progress and prospects, United Nations Organisation (JULY 18, 2020, 8:55 AM), https://www.unicef.org/media/files/Child_Marriage_Report_7_17_LR..pdf

Editor: Samiksha Gupta
Founder, Editor and Writer | Leagle Samiksha

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