Since 1990, when North and South Yemen unified, the country has had to deal with the merging of two different political and administrative systems, the effects of the Gulf war, and the impact of the 1994 civil war.
Traditionally, North Yemen has been a very closed society with very little contact with the outside world and where education was confined only to religious schools. It is only during the last two to three decades that educational opportunities have been made available and enrolment in basic education has increased significantly. With the unification of North and South Yemen, the fight against poverty is the main theme of government's poverty policy for the years to come and the need to improve the situation of children and women is emphasized.
Yemen was prominent in the news media during 2007 for varying issues, ranging from internal conflict, insecurity and natural disasters to being a haven for refugees arriving under perilous circumstances from the Horn of Africa. Against this backdrop, some important events took place in the country that significantly raised the profile of child-related concerns.
Most notable among these were the launch in July 2007 of the National Strategy on Children and Youth by the Prime Minister. The challenge now remains to ensure its ‘internalization’ by key sectors, including the Ministries of Planning and Finance, as an integral part of the country's present Five Year Plan, through which budget allocations are committed. Furthermore, the Pan Arab Conference of ISPCAN (International Society for the Protection of Children against Abuse and Neglect) and the Regional Conference on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting were held in June 2007, and the Third Consultation between Saudi Arabia and Yemen on Child Trafficking in October 2007.
In addition, in trying to align with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Government of Yemen revised 14 laws related to children, and a National Action Plan to combat child trafficking was developed. These efforts are creating a favourable environment to secure the rights of children to life, education, protection and participation.
Two out-of-school girls inside a village home in Hodaida