Yemen has been devastated since the escalation of the conflict in mid-March 2015, resulting in a humanitarian crisis and protection situation that threatens the life, safety and well-being of millions of civilians, not least the most vulnerable already struggling to survive.
The level of need in Yemen is staggering, with nearly 80 per cent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Indiscriminate hostilities and grave violations of children’s rights have continued across Yemen since the escalation of conflict. Children exposed to grave violations of their rights require a holistic protection response coordinated by the CP AoR: psychosocial support activities, mine risk education, case management and critical CP services such as family tracing and reunification, socio-economic reintegration, etc.
2021 Response plan in numbers
Child protection has been increasingly constrained in Yemen since the beginning of the conflict. The situation deteriorated further after the COVID-19 pandemic. Protection risks for boys and girls are high especially in areas where severity of needs is high. Children and their families are resorting to negative coping mechanisms harmful for boys and girls such as child labour, begging, child marriage, sexual violence and exploitation and forced recruitment. Boys face forms of work that could be identified as child labour, including the worst form of child labour –three times higher than girls- i.e. child recruitment. The number of boys affected by gross human rights violations is higher than the number of girls (1,784 boys, 450 girls).
Over 13,000 grave violations against children in Yemen since 2015 have been identified. Killing and maiming are the most prevalent violation, with over 9,200 child casualties, including 3,256 children killed and 5,559 children maimed since the beginning of the conflict. Forced recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups remains considerably under-reported. A total of 3,513 children (3,452 boys, 61 girls), some as young as 12, were used and recruited by parties to the conflict. The number of children out of school and therefore exposed to multiple protection risks, is estimated at 2 million.
Since 2015, schools and hospitals have been damaged by hostilities and used for military purposes (229 schools and 148 hospitals), while sexual violence remains severely under-reported due to the risk and stigmatisation. Finally, more than 450 children have been arbitrarily detained or abducted since the start of the conflict and 7,270 children (3,066 boys, 4,204 girls) have experienced family separation. Unaccompanied or separated children have been identified in 30 per cent of IDP hosting sites. Some of the key challenges hindering family reunification include humanitarian access, lack of civil documentation, stringent bureaucratic process, security, and huge funding gaps. Those children who have been successfully reunified with their families as well as those still waiting to be reunified need continuous protection and care.
The Child Protection Area of Responsibility aims to support over one million boys and girls and their caregivers with preventive and responsive activities for child protection. Priority in the response will be given to the most vulnerable boys and girls including those displaced and in host communities who are at risk of violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation based on their needs and levels of vulnerability.
The child protection response will focus on comprehensive case management services including family tracing and reunification for unaccompanied and separated children, assistance to children victims of violence and provision of alternative care. Child protection partners aim to increase capacity building of child protection actors to respond and refer cases to specialized child services. Partners will support the building of community resilience to increase the physical and psychological wellbeing of children and their caregivers and strengthen the capacity of communities to prevent and respond to violence, exploitation and abuse of children through trainings and awareness raising activities. In 2021, increased efforts will be made to strengthen coordination with humanitarian sectors to ensure that boys and girls, particularly those who are affected by the conflict such as children heads of household and IDPs, are included in humanitarian programming and have access to basic humanitarian assistance including food, education, health, CCCM and WASH services. Coordination will also be ensured with the RMMS, to strengthen the response for other vulnerable children including refugees and migrant unaccompanied and separated children. Partners will work to ensure the provision of, and advocacy for, children’s civil documentation, including birth certificates, at governorate and national levels.