UN pays Yemen teacher wages as millions out of school

Dubai (AFP) –


The United Nations children's fund is paying some 100,000 teachers in Yemen, the UN said Sunday, as two million children go without education in the war-torn country.

UNICEF has disbursed the equivalent of $50 per month to more than 97,000 eligible teachers and school staff, and aims to increase that figure to 136,000.

The UN estimates that out of seven million school-age children in Yemen over two million are not being educated as infrastructure has been destroyed or repurposed to house those displaced by the four-year conflict.

Salaries for teachers were suspended in 2016 as the war between the country's rebels and a government backed by a Saudi-led alliance brought the economy to a halt.

Schools in some areas have since reopened.

"The situation of Yemen's education sector is daunting," said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Without a regular salary and due to the conflict and the ongoing economic crisis, teachers have been unable to commute to their schools or had to look for other livelihood opportunities to sustain their families."

Rights groups have warned the loss of education poses a major threat to the well-being of children, who are at increased risk of being recruited into militias, forced into labour or married off young.

Yemen's Huthi rebels, linked to Iran, in 2014 drove the government out of the capital Sanaa and south into Aden, hometown of beleaguered President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and its military allies intervened on behalf of the government, triggering what the UN now calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Some 10,000 Yemenis now face starvation, the UN says.

Around 10,000 people -- mostly civilians -- have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded since 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

Rights groups say the real figure could be five times as high.