Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East ranking 168 out of 188 on the Human Development Index. Declared as an L3 emergency by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee in July 2015, the conflict in Yemen has taken a severe toll on civilians, reversed the development gains made and divided the country into two.
According to the 2017 Yemen Humanitarian Needs Assessment Overview published by OCHA, a staggering 70% of Yemen’s population (18.8 million people) need humanitarian or protection assistance, of which 10.3 million are in acute need. Escalating conflict since March 2015 has created a vast protection crisis in which millions face risks to their safety and basic rights, and are struggling to survive.
On the education front, approximately 2 million school-age children (27% of school-aged children) are out of school with considerable disparities across gender, social status and geographical location and urgently need access to education, while more than 1,600 schools are unfit for use due to conflict-related damage, hosting of IDPs, or occupation by armed groups. Disruption of schooling, displacement, occupation and use of schools for shelter or for military purposes as well as damages to schools have been on the rise.
Challenges and opportunities
As Yemen continues to suffer from this humanitarian (and resulting education) crisis, the operational and political environments will also remain fragile and volatile, making it unpredictable for UNESCO to implement crucial initiatives. Though difficult, UNESCO will strive to continue its work and capitalize on the following assets:
•Technical expertise within the country
•Productive partnerships with the Ministry of Education, National Commission for UNESCO and technical institutes
•Strategic position of UNESCO as a major member of Local Education Group
•Identification of UNESCO’s ‘niche’ areas despite the non-resident status