A culture rich with history, Yemen is home to various majority and minority ethnic groups. Although Yemen is deeply rooted in the Islamic culture, the country is home to heritage and traditions that date back to the Saba and Hadramawt kingdoms. Yemeni households consist of a joint family system, where extended families live in single housing units. The importance placed on family and loved ones is evident through the dominant living structure across the country. The domestic culture of Yemen is a source of architectural admiration. Dating back 2000 years, the houses in the mountainous interior consist of sun-banked and sun-dried stone blocks and bricks (Burrowes, 2021). Like the families living inside, these buildings stand beautifully against the harsh backdrop of their environment.
Rooted in the lack of national stability following the uprising in 2011, the Yemen crisis has affected millions across the country. The political and social unrest has led to children experiencing a shortage in food, education and health facilities (Yemen Crisis, 2021). According to UNICEF Canada, around 2 million children have been displaced from their homes — that is 2 million children without proper care, family, education and other fundamental needs. The lack of standardized protocol, combined with problems brought on by the conflict, has made it difficult to adequately handle the recent pandemic. Currently, nearly 2.3 million children under the age of 5 are suffering from malnutrition (UNICEF Canada, 2021). 50 percent of these chronically malnourished children might never develop their full intellectual potential (Cappelaere, 2018).
This puts the future of Yemen at a significant disadvantage — but more importantly, it puts the children of Yemen at a disadvantage.
WHAT UNICEF IS DOING
UNICEF is on ground across Yemen to aid one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world.
They are working to save children’s lives by helping them cope with the ongoing conflict. Part of their work includes providing victim assistance as well as education regarding mines and explosive remnants of war (UNICEF Canada, 2021). In 2020, UNICEF reached approximately 395 000 people with lifesaving mine risk education (UNICEF, 2022).
Additionally, in 2020, UNICEF provided 4.7 million children under the age of 5 with primary health care (UNICEF, 2022). To combat severe acute malnutrition in Yemen, 231 062 children were provided with essential therapeutic food and medical supplies (UNICEF Canada, 2021). This includes 1.4 million children under 5 who were given micronutrient supplementation (UNICEF, 2022). They also supported 6.9 million people by distributing safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.
To cover the educational losses that the children have suffered due to the crisis, UNICEF and partners are rehabilitating damaged schools to establish safe learning environments. In 2020, UNICEF aided over 430 000 children and caregivers receive access to psychosocial support (UNICEF, 2022).
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
While the crisis in Yemen may at first seem distant, there are still ways for people around the globe to help the children impacted. One crucial aspect is funding, as UNICEF has estimated that they will require around $484 million USD to fund their programs in the country throughout 2022 (Yemen Appeal, 2021). UNICEF Canada allows citizens to create fundraising pages to collect donations for specific emergencies. This allows individuals all across the country, such as those residing in Hamilton, to contribute UNICEF’s goals. Additionally, general donations can be made directly via UNICEF’s website, or by participating in UNICEF McMaster’s on-campus fundraisers. In fact, UNICEF Canada had a partnership with the Lawrence Schafer Foundation, which pledged to match any donations up to a quarter of a million dollars (UNICEF Canada, 2021). With generous partnerships as such, money donated by outside individuals can stretch even further to help children in Yemen. UNICEF will use the funds in Yemen to support critical sectors such as child protection, education, water and sanitation, and about a quarter each will be allocated to support the nutrition sector and the health sector (Yemen Appeal, 2021).
Alternatively, instead of monetary donations, Hamilton citizens may support this cause by increasing awareness. This may be achieved by attending events regarding the crisis to educate yourself and others. While the crisis in Yemen may at first seem too distant for students to support, there are still many ways to help the innocent children of this crisis through this time.
Authors: Hamda Altaf, Tristan Paranavitana & Tehrim Younas
Editor: Sahaj Puri
Burrowes, Robert. “Yemen.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., Mar. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/place/Yemen/Daily-life-and-social-customs.
Cappelaere, Geert. “Conflict in Yemen: ‘A Living Hell for Children.’” UNICEF Middle East and North Africa, UNICEF, 4 Nov. 2018, https://www.unicef.org/mena/stories/conflict-yemen-living-hell-children.
“Emergency Update: Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen.” UNICEF Canada: For Every Child, UNICEF Canada, Mar. 2021, https://www.unicef.ca/en/donate/help-save-children-in-yemen.
Pell, Barry. “The Sad Decline of Yemen, the Best Country You’ll Never Get to See.” The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 10 Aug. 2017, https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-sad-decline-of-yemen-the-best-country-youll-never-get-to-see.
“Yemen Appeal.” UNICEF, UNICEF, 19 Dec. 2021, https://www.unicef.org/appeals/yemen#:~:text=Yemen%20remains%20one%20of%20the%20world's%20worst%20humanitarian%20crises.&text=UNICEF%20requires%20US%24484.4%20million,is%20now%20at%20serious%20levels.
“Yemen Crisis.” UNICEF, 22 Jan. 2022, https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/yemen-crisis#what-unicef-is-doing.
“Yemen Crisis: Why Is There a War?” BBC News, BBC, 2 Nov. 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29319423.