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UNICEF Child Friendly Space gives the smile back to the children of Hadramaut

Children attending activities organized at the Child Friendly Space of Gheil Ben Yameen district in Hadramaut governorate.

Hadramaut, Yemen, 24 December 2018 - Worsening years of underdevelopment, attacks against civilian infrastructure and lack of salary payments for most civil servants have pushed basic services for Yemeni children to the brink. Children face food shortages, disease, displacement and an acute lack of access to basic social services and this gets worse with every day that the war continues.

Despite these challenges, UNICEF continues its interventions to meet the urgent needs of children and protect their rights, through various tools such as the Child Friendly Spaces, which give children the opportunity to express themselves freely and free from harm.

At Gheil Ben Yameen space of Hadramaut governorate, one of the Child Friendly Spaces supported by UNICEF, the social workers have many positive stories to tell on how psychosocial activities help to put a smile back on children’s faces.

Shaima and Fatima regained happiness

Before coming to the Gheil Ben Yameen, Shaima and Fatima were living in complete isolation at the family house. Their parents had a hard time trying to convince them to join the centre and the first week they attended the activities, the two young sisters were crying to go back home.

However, with patience and care, the animators of the space included them gradually into the activities and explained them that the centre was a safe environment for them to play and practice their hobbies and interact with other children. “I am so happy that my daughters joined the centre. I would have never expected such progress, but now they are asking us every day to go and play with their friends,” Shamia and Fatima’s mother says.

A theater session on children’s rights at the Child Friendly Space of Gheil Ben Yameen.

Abdulkarim and Mohammad went back to school

Al Mukalla city has seen an increase in violence in the last years. For the two brothers Abdulkarim and Mohammad, it was almost impossible to sleep at night without hearing the sound of bombs in their village.

Since their school had been occupied by armed groups, they stopped going to class and quickly, they stayed at home fearing for the next strike to happen. Like many other families, the two brothers and their parents left the village to find shelter in a safer place.

A caseworker who visited the family realized how much the conflict impacted the psychological health of the two brothers and the Case Management System (CMS) team, which is supported by UNICEF to assess and deal with child protection cases, organized several psychosocial sessions to help them overcome the scares of the war. They also referred them to the Child Friendly Space.

Through various activities, the animators made a real difference for the two children and once the two brothers felt safe enough and gained confidence, the CMS arranged for their reintegration into school. Abdulkarim and Mohammad are now happy and back to class and pick up where they left off.

A group of boys playing together at the Child Friendly Space of Gheil Ben Yameen.

Ibrahim found a shelter

Ibrahim is a 6-year-old boy that has been raised by his father who works as a taxi driver in Hadramaut city. His mother left when he was only 3 months old. For six long years, Ibrahim lived with his dad in the taxi car since his father couldn’t afford to pay a rent. Ibrahim had no shelter, no relationship to the community and was not going to school.

To make matters worse, Ibrahim’s father lost his car when the Cyclone Luban hit Hadramout last October, causing heavy floods in the city. Both had no choice but to live in the street, near a storage place used by local fishermen. They survived only thanks to the inhabitants that were bringing them food and basic items.

When their story was heard by the CMS, the local authorities, in coordination with a local non-profit organization, rapidly intervened and provided them with a shelter. They also met with the father and his son to evaluate their situation and assess their most urgent needs and enrolled Ibrahim to the Child Friendly Space.

Through the support of the social workers Ibrahim’s behavior improved significantly and he is now playing regularly with his friends at the centre, living the life of a happy boy.

UNICEF and its partners continue to provide psychosocial support to children in conflict-affected areas across Yemen, through a network of fixed and mobile child-friendly spaces in 15 governorates.

In October alone, through the case management System, 1,297 cases of vulnerable children (766 boys; 531 girls) were identified, of which 1,225 children (723 boys; 502 girls) have so far been referred to individual counselling and critical child protection services.

From January to October 2018, a total of 8,478 children were reached with critical child protection services, including case management and victim assistance, thanks to the efforts of UNICEF and the support of contributing donors, such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations.

* The names have been changed to protect the identity of the children.



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