Child marriage soars in Yemen as famine looms — UN

Yemeni child brides with their husbands. (Video grab)
Updated 27 March 2017

Child marriage soars in Yemen as famine looms — UN

LONDON: Child marriage has soared in Yemen as families struggle to feed their children amid a conflict that has left the country on the brink of famine, the UN children’s agency said on Monday.
More than two thirds of girls in Yemen are married off before they reach 18, compared to half of girls before the conflict escalated, UNICEF said in a report to mark the second anniversary of the war.
It said parents struggling with deepening poverty were increasingly marrying off their daughters to reduce costs and the number of mouths to feed or because they believed a husband’s family could offer better protection.
Around 80 percent of families in Yemen are in debt or are borrowing money to feed their children, the agency said.
Dowry payments — paid by the husband’s family in Yemen — are an additional incentive for poor parents to marry daughters off early, it added.
There is no minimum age of marriage in Yemen where campaigners say girls are sometimes wed at eight or nine. Some die from rape injuries or childbirth complications after becoming pregnant before their bodies are fully developed.
Yemen’s hunger crisis follows two years of civil war pitting the Iran-allied Houthi group against a Saudi-backed coalition, which has caused economic collapse and severely restricted food and fuel imports.
More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict and around 3 million people have fled their homes, although some are now returning.
Early marriage is especially common in Al Hudaydah, Hajah and Ibb governorates that host large numbers of uprooted people, UNICEF said.
“One of the first casualties when families are displaced and lose their incomes is girls,” UNICEF’s spokesman in Yemen, Rajat Madhok, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Initial results from a new UNICEF study on child marriage suggest around 44 percent of girls and women are married under the age of 15 in some parts of Yemen.
Bilkis, 16, told researchers how life had become unbearable after she was married at 13.
“I was a child who was not mentally and physically able to be a wife,” the report quoted her as saying. “I was warned not to do anything that children do. Through the window, I could watch other children play.”
Child marriage not only endangers girls’ lives but deprives them of education and opportunities, and increases the risk of domestic and sexual violence, campaigners say. 


Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

Updated 16 min 32 sec ago

Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

  • Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley will remain in what he described as an “enclave” after Israel annexes the territory and will not be granted Israeli citizenship.
Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, a process that could begin as early as July 1.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley and the far-flung settlements would make it virtually impossible to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, which is still widely seen as the only way to resolve the decades-old conflict.
In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper, Netanyahu said Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, including residents of the city of Jericho, would remain under limited Palestinian self-rule, with Israel having overall security control.
“They will remain a Palestinian enclave,” he said. “You’re not annexing Jericho. There’s a cluster or two. You don’t need to apply sovereignty over them. They will remain Palestinian subjects, if you will. But security control also applies to these places.”
Palestinians in the West Bank have lived under Israeli military rule since the 1967 war, when Israel captured the territory, along with east Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future state.
The Trump plan would grant the Palestinians limited statehood over scattered enclaves surrounded by Israel if they meet a long list of conditions. Israel has embraced the plan, while the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, has angrily rejected it and cut ties with the US and Israel.
Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians accept all the conditions in the plan, including Israel maintaining overall security control, “then they will have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state.”
Under a coalition agreement reached last month, Netanyahu can bring his annexation plans before the government as early as July 1.
The Palestinian Authority has said it is no longer bound by any agreements signed with Israel and the US, and says it has cut off security coordination with Israel. Neighboring Jordan, a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have made peace with Israel, has warned of a “massive conflict” if Israel proceeds with annexation.