(SANA’A, Yemen) — A new school year is underway for children in the U.S., but for children in Yemen, where air strikes have been routine since March 2015, a new school year means trying to find a school.
The fighting between the Saudi-led military coalition and the Houthi rebels has left many colleges and schools damaged or destroyed, with others closed out of fear.
According to Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and Africa, 1,600 schools have been damaged or destroyed, and 170 are being used for military purposes or as a shelter for displaced families.
“For those children who can attend school, malnutrition and the trauma of displacement and violence have seriously affected their ability to learn,” Cappelaere said.
Officials fear that without schools, which can provide a safe haven for the vulnerable, children could be susceptible to recruitment for fighting or early marriage.
Yemen plunged into civil war when the Houthis seized the capital Sana’a in September 2014, forcing Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee and leading a Saudi Arabia-led coalition to launch a military campaign on his behalf.
Yemen’s instability has created fertile ground for militant groups, such as al Qaeda and ISIS, who have launched attacks on both sides of the crisis.
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