YEMEN: Dozens of young children among the dead in Saada attack

Save the Children calls for immediate and independent investigation into recent attacks on civilians

Sanaa, August 9 – Dozens of children aged between 6 and 14 are feared dead with many more injured, after the school bus they were travelling in was hit by a suspected airstrike in the town of Dhahyan in Saada governorate in northern Yemen.

Our staff are telling us that the pupils were on their way back to school from a picnic when the driver stopped to get a drink. That’s when the attack happened, while the bus was stationary. We are unable to verify the details at this moment.  

Save the Children condemns this horrific attack and is calling for a full, immediate and independent investigation into this and other recent attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, like schools and hospitals. We have seen a worrying rise in these incidents and no action has been taken to hold the perpetrators to account.   

The capital Sanaa has also seen heavy fighting over the past 24 hours, with reports of airstrikes near our office forcing our staff to suspend all activity and seek immediate shelter.

Sylvia Ghaly, Director of Advocacy in Yemen, Save the Children, said:

“This is yet another example of the blatant violations of international humanitarian law that we have seen in Yemen over the past three years – from indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians, denial of access to humanitarian aid and the use of starvation as a weapon of war – it’s the people of Yemen, not the warring parties, who are paying the ultimate price. This is why we need an independent investigation into attacks on civilians so that perpetrators can be held to account.”

“There is no military solution to this conflict. Only a political solution can bring the war to an end and reinstate peace in Yemen. We urge all parties to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities, return to the negotiation table to commit to a ceasefire and cooperate with the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. Spare the Yemeni people more death and misery.”

Kevin Watkins, CEO, Save the Children, said:

“As a key ally of the Saudi- and Emirati-led Coalition and one of the largest donors to Yemen’s relief effort, the UK has a vital role to play. A majority of the British public want their Government to call for a ceasefire in Yemen and either suspend or reduce arms sales to the Coalition.

The new Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, must publicly condemn this attack and urge all parties to implement an immediate ceasefire and engage in the peace process in good faith. It’s unacceptable for Britain to remain silent in the wake of this despicable attack on children.”

ENDS

Spokespeople available in Sanaa and London.

 

Contact:

Bhanu Bhatnagar,

B.Bhatnagar@savethechildren.org.uk, +44 7467096788

Out-of-hours, Media@savethechildren.org.uk, +44 7831650409

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • A Save the Children/YouGov survey found that 51 per cent of the British public want their Government to call for a ceasefire in Yemen. Britain is a major arms exporter to the Saudi- and Emirati-led Coalition fighting in Yemen but 61 per cent of those surveyed either tend to oppose (27 per cent) or strongly oppose (34 per cent) the transfer of British-made weapons to Saudi Arabia and/or the United Arab Emirates. When asked whether Britain should continue to supply weapons to the Coalition more than half of respondents said they want the Government to either completely suspend (47 per cent) or reduce (9 per cent) arms sales to any party involved in the conflict in Yemen. 

 

  • Saada has been the most heavily bombed governorate in Yemen since the Saudi-led air campaign began in March 2015, according to the Yemen Data Project.

 

Save the Children works in Saada governorate where we provide the following services:

 

“There is no military solution to this conflict. Only a political solution can bring the war to an end and reinstate peace in Yemen. We urge all parties to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities, return to the negotiation table to commit to a ceasefire and cooperate with the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. Spare the Yemeni people more death and misery.”

 

ENDS

 

Spokespeople available in Sanaa and London. Please contact:

 

Natasha Dos Santos,

natasha.dossantos@savethechildren.org, +44 7787 191957

Out-of-hours, Media@savethechildren.org.uk, +44 7831 650409

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

 

  • Saada has been the most heavily bombed governorate in Yemen since the Saudi-led air campaign began in March 2015, according to the Yemen Data Project.

 

  • Save the Children works in Saada governorate where we provide the following services:
    • Ensuring children are protected through case management, Child Protection Committees and psychosocial support.
    • Running a Feeding Programme for children under five and pregnant women, through both fixed health facilities and mobile teams.
    • Screening, treating, and referring children with malnutrition.
    • Supporting and rehabilitating healthcare facilities, training health workers, and providing medical supplies to health centres.
    • Training Community Health Workers to treat the common diseases which endanger children such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.
    • Preventing and treating cholera through Diarrhoea Treatment Centres and Oral Rehydration Therapy corners
    • Providing cash transfers to vulnerable families to help them buy food and other essentials