As families in North America are preparing for the new school year, children in Yemen are struggling to stay alive amid the war that is ravaging their country. The people of Yemen have been suffering under a brutal bombing campaign carried out by Saudi Arabia’s government and its allies. Over two years of war and destruction have left the country in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that’s getting worse by the day. In a joint statement, three UN agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) described the most recent situation in Yemen as “the world’s worst cholera outbreak in the midst of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.”
Humanitarian crisis intensifies!
The indiscriminate bombing campaign by the Saudi-led coalition has destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, roads, markets, mosques, and other economic and civilian infrastructure. Coupled with the inhuman naval, aerial and land blockade imposed on the country by Saudi Arabia, Yemen faces huge shortages of many essential items, including food, fuel and medical supplies. According to the UN's latest report on the situation in Yemen, “21.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, of which 9.9 million are children and 1.4 million are internally displaced.”
This lack of food, medicine and proper healthcare and sanitary infrastructure has plunged the country into a widespread cholera epidemic. According to the New York Times 5,000 Yemenis are infected with cholera each day. Children suffering from acute malnutrition account for a big number of fatalities by the disease.
In a report by UNICEF titled “Falling through the cracks - the children of Yemen” the situation for children in Yemen was described as “A Calamity.” The report states that “Nearly 2.2 million children are acutely malnourished and require urgent care. Close to half a million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition that has seen a drastic increase of 200 per cent since 2014.”
Children of Yemen: deprived of their lives and future
The Saudi government backed by the US and their allies has no respect for human life. Their brutal bombardment and war on Yemen is stripping Yemeni children of their childhood and destroying the hopes and future of a whole generation. As the UNICEF representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relaño, described it “Relentless fighting and destruction has scarred children for life.”
One of the recent horrendous crimes by the Saudi-led coalition was an airstrike on an apartment building in the residential neighbourhood of Faj Attan in the south of Sana’a. The airstrike killed 14 civilians and injured another 16, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The world saw the atrocities that happened through the photos of the young Buthaina Muhammad Mansour, believed to be four or five years old, in her hospital bed as she tries to open one of her severely swollen eyes with her index finger and thumb. Buthaina is the sole survivor of the bombing that flattened her house and killed her parents, siblings and uncle. Imagine what went through the mind of this innocent child while she was stuck underneath the debris of her home for more than 14 hours before being rescued. Imagine how she must of felt when she learned that all her family members were killed by the bombing. Buthaina lost her home, her family, her innocence, and her childhood in what the Saudi-led military coalition called a “technical mistake”!!!
Buthaina’s story and suffering is shared by millions of children and families in Yemen, struggling to survive under the war and the economic blockade imposed on their country by Saudi Arabia’s government and its allies. The war is destroying the spirt and hope of children in Yemen. In this back to school season, the children of Yemen are being deprived from the opportunity to go to school and from the dream of building a better future.
At least two million children, or about 30 per cent of school-age children, are out of school according to UNICEF. An estimated 2,108 schools across the country can no longer be used as they are either destroyed, damaged or being used for other purposes.
Amnesty international has recorded several instances were the Saudi fighter jets bombed schools with civilians and students in them or in the vicinity. One example is the Al-Asma School in Mansouriya village which was bombed on August 24, 2015.
A student at the school spoke to Amnesty International about how she and her classmates continue to fear future attacks on their school: “We are living in fear and in terror. Today I saw the plane and I was very afraid and terrified. The sound today was loud but the feeling I had was like that of all of the girls at school today, of course we are afraid...We just want the aggression [coalition forces] to stop [shelling] on schools. It is a shame for them to bomb kids, a shame for them to attack schools. Their kids study in Saudi Arabia in private universities and everywhere. Our kids are bombed.”
Hands off Yemen! #KefayaWar on Yemen!
The Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate their puppet, former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to power. Since day one, the United States provided the coalition with political, military and logistical support. Saudi and UAE fighter jets are being refuelled mid-air by US Air Force tankers.
In addition the US and the UK are helping the Saudi government and their coalition allies to restock their weapon inventory. According to Amnesty international the US and the UK have sold over $5 billion worth of weapons to the Saudi government since the beginning of the war; more than 10 times the $450 million they claim have spent in humanitarian donations to help the millions of people suffering in Yemen.
Despite all of this, the Saudi government is failing in its attempt to restore to power its puppet regime and crush the spirit of the brave Yemeni people. The Yemeni people continue to fight and protest against the foreign Saudi-led aggression on their country. They continue to share with the world their voice, their photos, and their stories to try to break the media silence and resist against the lies and deceptions by the Saudi government and their allies.
Let’s join the Yemeni people to expose the atrocities committed by the US, Saudi Arabia and their allies in Yemen. Let’s join the people of Yemen in standing up for their self-determination, sovereignty, human rights and a bright future for the children of Yemen!
US/Saudi Arabia Hands off Yemen!
Stop Bombing Yemen!
Lift the Naval, Air and Land Blockade on Yemen!
Follow Azza Rojbi on Twitter: @Azza_R14
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