Narrowing the gaps to meet the MDGs in Yemen
Focus on 500,000 Yemeni children in Back to School campaign
SANA’A, - Half a million children in Yemen, including refugees, internally displaced and other war-affected children, are headed back to classrooms as part of a major Back to School campaign organized by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF in collaboration with UNHCR, Save the Children, CHF International and other development partners.
At the same time, UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Public Health and Population on a weeklong campaign to immunize 1.7 million women of child-bearing age against tetanus. The campaign runs from 9 to 14 October in 14 governorates around the country.
Both campaigns aim to achieve a more sustainable and equitable progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals for Yemen by the 2015 deadline by aiming to reach every woman and every child in Yemen, with an emphasis on reaching marginalized and vulnerable communities.
More than one- quarter of school-aged children (6 to14 years) in Yemen do not attend school. However, in Sa’ada, Amran and Hajjah the problem is more acute, with the majority of school-aged children out of school as a result of a protracted conflict between the government and al-Houthi rebels.
The Back to School campaign is aimed at every child in every district of the country, with a special focus on those children affected by the conflict.
“Education is one of the most critical contributions to peace-building,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Represntative in Yemen. “Many children in Yemen have been deprived of education for too long because of the conflict, and we welcome the commitment from all sides to actively contribute to the success of this campaign.”
In the past decade, Yemen has improved under-five and maternal mortality indicators, towards MDG achievement. However, significant challenges still exist.
Coverage of tetanus immunization for women of child-bearing age, for example, is still only 20 per cent. Neonatal tetanus kills about one child every three minutes worldwide and yet it is the most easily preventable cause of neonatal deaths.
“As we count down to the 2015 deadline for the MDGs, we have fallen far short of our commitments and promises to the children of this country,” Mr. Cappelaere said. “There is an urgent need for the government and development partners to accelerate efforts and increase investment in order to meet our MDG targets and make a real difference in the lives of the children and women of Yemen.”
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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