Save the Children, April 8th 2019
Yemen Sanaa, April 8, 2019 – A Save the Children child protection worker who rushed to the scene of the school where several pupils were killed yesterday described scenes of devastation, and children bleeding heavily while aid workers tried to reach them.
The Save the Children team immediately intervened at Al Raee school, and helped transfer wounded girls from governmental hospitals to private ones that can provide better care than the public system worn out by four years of conflict. Five girls aged 12 to 16, were transferred yesterday after the incident. Sadly, one died in the evening.
The aid agency will continue transfers in the coming days, to ensure the wounded girls get the best medical care available, and will cover the cost.
The Save the Children child protection worker said:
“I received the news yesterday midday. We hurried to the school. The scene when we arrived there was extremely painful. Children were bleeding on the floor, calling for their parents. Parents were searching for their children, worried if they are still alive or dead. Some of the children were bleeding very badly in their classrooms, and they died.
“People were running in the streets and most of them were injured and calling for help.
“Getting the children to fully operational hospitals was challenging. One of the girls was badly injured and died due to lack of equipment and supplies in the hospital she was admitted in. It was very hard for me to inform her parents that she had passed away, her mother was crying loudly.”
“I will never forget how the father of Salma* was holding my hand, crying, and asking us to do everything we can to save his little girl. I am glad we were able to save the lives of these four girls, and I am very sad that many children died in this incident.”
One of the girls Save the Children transported, 14 year-old Amina*, said: “I will never go to school again”, as she lay in hospital, her head resting on one hand, a drip inserted in the other.
Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children Country Director, said: “Details of what happened are still unclear. But if the damage and deaths are as a result of the conflict, then fighting has once again torn apart the lives of children in a place of learning that should be off limits. The images of bloodied school bags and crying and distressed girls are unacceptable.
“Whatever the cause, children are paying the heaviest price in this war. Children are not targets. Schools and hospitals should be protected.
“All parties to the conflict need to abide by their obligations under international law to take steps to ensure civilians, including children are protected from conflict. Ultimately, what is needed is a total end to the conflict in Yemen. Only then will children be able to grow up in safety, without fearing for their lives every minute of the day.”
Save the Children’s team visited the school, which was left devastated by the blasts. Windows were shattered and there were blood stains on the stairs which littered with bags and books left by schoolchildren running for safety.
Last month, five children were killed while in the safe environment of a hospital in Kitaf.
Save the Children is calling for an immediate, international, independent and credible investigation into how this devastating event occurred. Britain has a responsibility to ensure that all perpetrators of violations are held to account.
420 million children are now living in conflict zones globally. Now, more than ever, they are in the firing line. The aid agency says the UK must show leadership to uphold the standards the world has signed up to, which rightly put children off limits.
*Name changed to protect identity
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