Statement by Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, on attack on teachers’ office in Yemen

August 19, 2015

NEW YORK, 19 August 2015 – Last night, 13 educators and four of their children paid a most terrible price in the continuing conflict in Yemen – killed in an airstrike on a teachers’ office in Amran, just north of Sana’a. Twenty people, including one child, were injured. The latest casualties inflicted by all sides.

The educators were gathered together to prepare exams for thousands of children who had missed the end of their school year because of this brutal conflict. Working after hours, they had brought their children with them, some of whom were playing outside when the bomb exploded. A selfless activity, turned in a moment into senseless bloodshed.

This awful attack took place on the eve of World Humanitarian Day – a time to champion the contribution of humanitarians and the sanctity of the places where they do their work. Last night’s attack in Amran violates the values we should be celebrating today.

In Yemen, since fighting escalated in March this year, an average of eight children have been killed or injured every day. Just as the immediate impact on children is appalling, the longer-term consequences for the future of Yemen are terrible – UNICEF estimates that 1.8 million children are likely to suffer from malnutrition by the end of this year; more than 15 million people have lost access to basic health care; the education of over 1.8 million children has been interrupted by school closures and more than 20 million people are struggling to get the safe water and sanitation they need.

No nation, no society, can afford to lose its children to conflict – whether from direct attacks, from malnutrition, from disease, from lack of education, or from the traumas of the horrors they witness. Whether in Yemen or Nigeria… in Syria, Sudan or South Sudan… in Iraq, Ukraine, Somalia, Central African Republic, or in other countries riven by war, whole generations of children are being lost.

Surely, this World Humanitarian Day should be the last on which we have to mourn the death of so many children, and those who serve them – their lives lost to bloody conflicts not of their making.