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Photo Essay: Putting smiles back on the faces of children affected by the conflict in Yemen

By Ali Qasem Ali, Communication Officer, UNICEF Aden Field Office
Photography: Yassir Abdulbaki

Aden, Yemen, 30 August 2018 – More than three years after the conflict broke out in Yemen, children continue paying with their lives the cost of a conflict not of their making and remain the most affected by the severity of grave violations against them across the country. Between March 2015 and August 2018, over 2,500 children were killed, 3,700 maimed, and 2,500 recruited and used by armed forces and groups. In August alone, more than 60 children were killed and 50 injured in two major incidents in Sada’a and Al Hudaydah governorates.

As the violence escalates, UNICEF remains committed to assisting the most affected children and their caregivers in Yemen. Thanks to the support of the government of Japan, UNICEF is securing child-friendly spaces, where children can play in a safe and well monitored environment. Children take part in psychosocial activities through UNICEF trained social workers who help the children to express themselves freely and support them to overcome the impact of the conflict. This photo essay documents UNICEF efforts to put a smile back on the faces of children in Al-Dhalea governorate, in southern Yemen.

Two young boys play chess in one of the child-friendly spaces supported by UNICEF in Dabian district, Al-Dhalea governorate.

Child-Friendly Spaces provide a safe environment for children affected by the conflict, where they can take part in psychosocial activities and games.

Mariam is a 11-year-old talented girl who wants to become a doctor. “I love to sing for my friends and other children here at the child-friendly space. The social workers support me and encourage me to share my talent with others.”

The 8-year-old Bayan plays tug of war with her friends. “I feel so happy when I come here with my mother to meet and play with my friends. I want to spend all my time here because I can play and run around without being scared.”

Children gather around Aisha, one of the social workers of the center, for an awareness session. “We closely monitor the behavior of the children and support any child in distress. We also conduct sessions with parents on how to support their children, especially those who have been injured or suffer from traumas.”

Although the 11-year-old Nasr suffers from a hand injury, he draws to express his dreams. “I love drawing, it’s my favorite hobby. Thanks to all the people here who provide us with what we need, I will continue drawing even with one hand.”

The Government of Japan is a key partner of UNICEF Yemen. Japan contributions play a prominent role in UNICEF integral response not only from the humanitarian perspective –addressing the most urgent needs of children in Yemen – but also supporting interventions with a mixed emergency/development approach, such as the Child Protection programme, which provides psychosocial support to conflict affected children and life-saving mine risk education on identification and protection from mines. Thanks to Japan’s contribution, UNICEF has provided psychosocial support to more than 150,000 children and their caregivers in conflict-affected areas since January 2018.



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