Soldiers, not students, occupy schools in Sana’a

18 Oct
Young activists renovating Al-Rammah School in Al-Hasaba conflict zone Sana’a after it was used as by the army as a temporary military stronghold. There are other schools used by either conflicting sides depriving by that the students of their education. photo by: Ayoon Shaba

Malak Shaher

Yemen Times


SANA’A, Oct.16 — For Mohammad Al-Wadi’e, a resident of Al-Hasaba district, sending his six-year-old daughter to school has become a matter of risking her life.

“She always feels bored staying at home and wants strongly to go to school, but I prevent her from going there as we live in an area where students can be in real danger in schools if fighting starts,” said Al-Wadi’e.

His daughter studies at Al-Irtiqa’a school in Al-Hasaba. The school is not occupied by soldiers but is in the midst of the most dangerous area in Sana’a, where fighting between government-aligned soldiers and Hashid tribesmen revives from time to time. Adjacent schools such as Al-Rammah are occupied by state soldiers.

As of now, nearly two-thirds of the schools in Al-Hasaba, Al-Tahreer, Ma’een and Al-Wahda districts are completely paralyzed due to occupation either by government soldiers or defected armed forces, according to Mohammad Al-Fadhly, head of the Education Ministry’s office in Sana’a.

Abdulkareem Al-Jendari, head of the Projects Sector in the ministry, said that two schools, Al-Furat and the 26th of September School, have recently been evacuated  after soldiers from the defected First Armored Division fired in the air, causing panic among students.

When the defected army fired in the air near Asma School for girls, the students were terrified and the school was evacuated at 10 AM on Wednesday. The school sits near Change Square, where the defected army has taken on the responsibility of protecting opposition protesters.

“The girls were in a state of panic. We went there and called their parents to come and take them,” Jindari said, adding that “Schools should be the place for education…students should not be involved in these conflicts. Both sides have to find an arena for fighting far away from the students.”

According to Khaled Al-Babili, a resident of Al-Hasaba district who lives near the Health Ministry, state soldiers first tried to occupy Othman school in May, but the residents organized a protest and compelled the soldiers to shift their move to Al-Rammah school, which stands a few meters away from a house belonging to Sadeq Al-Ahmar, leader of the biggest tribe in Yemen, the Hashid Tribal Confederation.

Ever since, the school has served as something of a trench for government soldiers engaged in conflicts with the Al-Ahmar family in Al-Hasaba. “I am afraid that when firing occurs, my daughter will be wounded. The firing is random most of the time,” said Al-Wadi’e.

Since last May, schools in Sana’a have been occupied by both government forces and soldiers from the defected First Armored Divison.

Al-Babili said that most of Al-Hasaba’s residents have fled their homes, and that people are afraid for their kids’ safety. He added that the number of students in a normal class used to be about seventy or eighty; now, no more than ten children are found in a given class.

“Every day is a problem,” Al-Babili said. He added that people are always thinking the situation over one thousand times before they allow their children to go to school. Most of the time, the children do not attend school on Saturdays and Sundays, as these two days follow what tends to be the most bloody day, Friday.

Up to the present moment, schools in Al-Sabeen and Al-Safia districts – as well as schools located in the outskirts of Sana’a – are considered to be “safe” for children to attend.


2 Responses to “Soldiers, not students, occupy schools in Sana’a”

  1. Dan October 21, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Our thoughts are with you.

    • malaakshaher October 24, 2011 at 7:32 am #

      thanks Dan 🙂

      i wish i was in Pittsburgh to see the Fall 🙂

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