Children can keep their childhood thanks to Red Crescent volunteers in Yemen

Publicado: 12 mayo 2016 14:59 CET

By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC

For more than a year, communities across Yemen have had to endure the turmoil wrought by the country’s ongoing armed conflict. Over 6,500 people have been killed in the fighting, half of whom were civilians caught up in the clashes. Insecurity and instability has forced about 2.8 million others to flee their homes, seeking safety and the possibility of hope in the future in other towns, villages and cities, or in neighbouring countries. Schools, hospitals and infrastructure have endured severe losses -  many have been completely destroyed.

Life has forever changed for Yemenis and non-Yemenis in the country, and for children, coping with the situation has been particularly difficult. In an attempt to allow children in Yemen to just be children, and to relieve some of the stress that these uncertain times have brought upon them, Yemen Red Crescent Society is providing psychosocial support at six schools in the Beni Hushaish district in the governorate of Sana’a.

In the first month of the project, which is supported and funded by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), 242 young students will take part in daily activities with trained Red Crescent volunteers. Rooms at the six schools have been renovated for the use of the programme, and completed with a huge collection of games to encourage expression in the safe space provided for girls and boys. The volunteers of the Red Crescent also held psychosocial support sessions for children at district level.

“Students in Yemen have been feeling disconnected from school and are not motivated to continue their education - many have withdrawn from classes. They are overwhelmed by the conflict and did not feel safe hearing the sounds of bombs and warplanes,” said Mr Adel Thamer, a Red Crescent volunteer who oversees the psychosocial programme.

“Our programme helps them express themselves. They were reluctant at first, but then they started interacting more and more with us. The number of returnees to schools has increased since the beginning of the programme. Now we are also engaging with more children, including those that are successful students as they are going through the same stresses and also need a safe environment.”

The project was inaugurated on 25 April 2016, in the presence of a psychosocial support team from the Yemen Red Crescent Society, representative from the local Beni Hushaish branch, the principals of the schools taking part, and officials representing the ministry of education at the governorate.

During the tour of the schools, the Red Crescent noted the poor conditions of these educational institutions and the lack of available equipment. The National Society plans on renovating classrooms and toilets, establishing first aid posts and supporting schools by providing swings, slides as well as climbing frames.

Despite the lack of resources and the challenging security situation across many parts of the country, Yemen Red Crescent Society continues to be the main community-based humanitarian actor in Yemen. The aid provided by the volunteers go beyond the mere delivery of relief items, to the provision of basic medical services and psychosocial support to communities, to ensure that their health and mental well-being is cared for amid the instability surrounding them.

Yemen Red Crescent Society works with the support of the ICRC, IFRC, and many National Society partners from overseas.