Children's parliament in Yemen

Since Yemen signed the CRC, there has been a failure to implement most of the convention articles, and children suffer from marginalization, persecution a

nd abused; despite the efforts made by international and local organizations to defend their rights, the impact is still weak, and from here the need to work on raise the voices of the children to decision-makers locally and internationally, and from this need emerged the Children’s Parliament as the only unified voice of children in Yemen, in which the children of Yemen are represented from all governorates.

The last Children’s Parliament – covered south and north of Yemen (8th cycle) – consisted of 79 members from all governorates which guarantee a full representation of children all over Yemen. In each cycle, two years, preserving neutrality and independence, in contrast to the divisions and conflicts the country is going through, which reflects the importance of neutralizing children in conflicts and divisions and for this the children are engaged in many local activities, some regional and international activities as well. Those activities include, but not limited to, holding regular hearing sessions where children are given the opportunity to express their views, discuss and draw the attention of high officials and ministers who attend those sessions to several issues related to their rights. Examples of the issues that have been discussed including; children in conflict with the law, child trafficking, child labor, child rights in national legislations, compulsory education, fighting against violent punishments in schools, corruption and its impact on children, status of the displaced children, children involvement in armed conflicts, children health and nutrition status and needs, the rights of children with special needs, and the urgency of increasing children participation of the state general budget. As well, in the 3 days session of the parliament, children are receiving some trainings to build their capacities in different areas such as leadership skills, participation skills, and also raise their awareness of on Child Rights Convention (CRC). Alongside with the Parliament sessions, children members conduct field visits, surveys, and studies on children situation in Yemen. Each cycle of the Children Parliament lasts for two years. Democracy School aims at qualifying those children to play a positive role in their communities and schools, and become an active member in their societies defending for children rights. In 2008, the children Parliament prepared the first alternative report. The report focused on the refugees’ children, birth certificate, neglected children, and the local institutions working with orphans and juveniles. In 2012, the Children Parliament prepared the second alternative report. At that year, the report focused on the recruitment of the children in the Armed Conflict and the impact of 2011 crisis on children education, health and protection. In 2015, Children Parliament prepared the third alternative report which mainly collected data from different Sana’a government agencies on the on-going war impact on the situation of children education, health, and protection. In 2016, Child Parliament prepared the fourth alternative report. At that year, the report covered all governorates overall Yemen, in addition to gathering information from the local authorities, as well as conducting interviews with a huge number of children, parents and government representatives.

2018 alternative report focused on the 2014 CRC concluding observations concerning the low levels of birth registration and its impact on juveniles. In addition, the report focused on the situation of children with disabilities, especially in addition to previous committee concerns, many of their facilities were destroyed or closed due to current ongoing conflict. The Children Parliament discussed the report with the CRC committee in Genève to review and show the suffering of Yemeni children due to the ongoing conflict globally.

Moreover, Children Parliament is still reporting on the children situation, despite the difficulties and compelling circumstances that the children of Yemen are going through. Child Parliament was the only entity drafting, preparing and submitting the alternative reports, and this is considered as a model for all children around the world and from this standpoint comes the importance of continuing to work on this type of capacity building to keep the Yemeni children parliament a CRG beacon. Through this project, Child Participation approach will be kept via Child Parliament in the south, and via child community-based structures in the north.

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This is thought-provoking, may God reward, come to the aid of children globally and bless humanity at large!

Founder, Youth Anti-Drug Campaign Africa(YADCA).