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Forced out of school and displaced from home in Yemen as conflict rages

UNICEF Yemen/2016
© UNICEF Yemen/2016
Kolod, 10 cleaning the compound of the makeshift shelter in Sana’a where her family currently stays after being uprooted from their home due to the conflict that rages on in Yemen without an end in sight.

By Bismarck Swangin

Sana’a, Yemen, 12 December 2016 - For ten year old Kolod, the gruesome memories of dead bodies flung all around her clubbed with the smell of blood seem to stalk her as she tries to go about her daily existence. Caught in the midst of the worst fighting the country has seen in a long time, Kolod who was in her class when airstrikes hit her neighbourhood, ran and hid under a desk while the bombs crashed next door to her. The sounds of war deafening her ears as she sat there, frozen with fear not knowing what to do next.

Running for life

“We were so scared. We had to run out of school”, Kolod said. “On the way we saw dead bodies and destroyed buildings”. Among the dead were some of her friends from the neighbourhood.

She managed to reach home but even there it was not safe. Several houses in their immediate neighbourhood had been flattened by the bombs and rockets. Together with her parents and sisters, they started running--running aimlessly - but there was no any other option. “Everybody was running”, Kolod said.

After several hours of running they got exhausted. Behind them they could hear the blast of the bombs followed by the shaking of the ground. They kept walking till sunset.

With other families that were running together with them, they settled at a certain compound for the night, not to sleep but to rest. At dawn the following day, the bombing and shelling started again, this time coming closer to this compound. They started running again.

Along the way, they met a family friend with a car. This was a big relief. They jumped into the car and drove to a place called Harath further west of Sana’a city. Having fled with nothing, Kolod’s family started from a scratch. They gathered cartons and wooden poles to put up a makeshift shelter for them to live in.

Missing school

While life away from home is difficult, what Kolod misses most is her school. Already in grade three at the time she and her family were uprooted, her dream is to become a teacher when she grows up.

“I want to teach all of my friends and students”, she said.

UNICEF estimates that 2,108 schools across the country can no longer be used. They were destroyed or damaged, host internally displaced families or being used for military purposes.

To ensure that children don’t completely miss out on their education, UNICEF is supporting the Back-to-School campaign to provide children with a learning opportunity. This includes the renovation of nearly 700 damaged schools and provision of school furniture, stationery and school bags. Teachers are receiving training on psychosocial support to help students cope with the horrors of the conflict.

In the past year and a half, UNICEF has reached over 575,000 school children with education material and psychosocial support and has worked with partners to support over 600,000 students in grade 9 and 12 to take their exams. 



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