Lives torn apart: the child survivors of Yemen’s war
More than two years into Yemen’s war, airstrikes and violence continue to destroy children’s lives.
Since the conflict escalated in March 2015, at least 1,546 children have been killed and 2,450 injured.
Homes, schools and hospitals have been targeted, and all warring parties are guilty of violations of international law.
At the same time, food shortages and blocks to humanitarian aid are pushing Yemen to the brink of famine.
Unable to hear or speak
Nine-year-old Ali* was thrown through a second-story window when a school next to his home was hit.
Despite Ali being seriously injured, his family were unable to get medical help until the airstrikes ended.
“It was the most horrible night of our lives,” his mum recalls.
“Ali was injured and we couldn’t take him to the hospital – there were the sounds of the flying jets and missiles falling one after the other very close to our home.”
Ali’s injuries left him unable to hear or speak. He now uses two hearing aids – and can barely speak despite surgery and months of speech therapy.
‘My wounds still hurt’
Khalil* and his little sister Noor*, aged nine and six, were peppered with shrapnel when an airstrike hit their home on New Year’s Day.
The attack killed their grandfather, three-year-old cousin and three guests.
“I was playing in the yard with my brother, and then we heard the missile coming towards us… I was so scared; I kept my eyes closed,” Noor says.
“My wounds still hurt and I am very afraid when I hear aircraft overhead. I have nightmares at night – I see aircraft hitting our house again and again.
“My brother and I cannot sleep properly. Sometimes I wake up because I hear my brother Khalil shouting while he is asleep.”
Our teams are there
Our teams on the ground in Yemen, helping children whose lives have been torn apart by the violence. We’re providing psychological support and arranging medical care for those in need.
Grant Pritchard, Save the Children’s Interim Country Director for Yemen, says:
“Our teams are helping children who have been physically and mentally scarred for life by illegal attacks on homes, hospitals and schools.
“But in this crisis children are not just being bombed – they are also being starved.
“The Saudi-led coalition is stopping vital supplies getting in by sea, while warring parties are detaining aid workers and obstructing deliveries by land.
“Millions of children and their families have no idea where their next meal is coming from, or where the next bomb will fall.”
We must stand up for Yemen’s children
The international community must do more to stand up for the children of Yemen, whose lives are at stake.
It must make sure aid and vital commercial supplies get where they need to, and that the UN’s appeal for Yemen is fully funded.
It must also ensure that all parties are held accountable for violations of international law.
- Yemen: ‘Food and aid used as weapons of war’
- Saudi Arabia and allies delaying urgently needed medical aid to Yemen
- Zuhair’s story: the boy who survived a bomb in Yemen
*Names changed to protect identities.