Zuhair’s story: the boy who survived a bomb in Yemen
Tuesday 7 February 2017
13-year-old Zuhair* survived one of the deadliest attacks yet on Yemeni civilians.
When a bomb hit the funeral he was attending in Sana’a, 140 people were killed.
The blast set 13-year-old Zuhair’s clothes on fire and he suffered third degree burns. He had to put out the flames with his bare hands.
More than 3,000 children like Zuhair have been injured or killed in Yemen’s war.
And Britain is selling weapons to the Saudi-led forces that are bombing many of them.
— Save the Children UK (@savechildrenuk) 7 February 2017
Zuhair may have survived, but his life has been torn apart.
Three months on, his body is still badly burnt from the attack, and he’s struggling to come to terms with the terror he witnessed.
“I saw people scattered on the floor,” Zuhair says. “They were dead. I saw only half bodies.”
“My clothes were burnt, my hands, my legs and my face. I was completely burnt.”
Zuhair’s family had been left so impoverished by the war that they couldn’t afford to take him to hospital for two weeks.
At first they had only homemade creams to treat his wounds.
Horror that won’t end
Now Zuhair’s burns are healing, but he’s still haunted by the attack.
“He screams while he’s sleeping,” his mum reveals. “His eyes are closed, but he screams so much. He says things that would scare you.”
And he’s terrified it will happen again.
“He still screams every time he hears the aircraft,” his mum says. “He cries: ‘Mum, they will bomb us. They will launch a missile.’”
Living in fear
Children in Yemen are also at risk from shelling, gunfire and landmines.
So far, 1,400 children have been killed, and many more – like Zuhair – are living in fear for their lives.
Violations have been committed by all sides in the conflict.
Schools, hospitals and homes have been destroyed – places where children should be safe.
Enough is enough
Many of these attacks may have broken international law. Yet our government continues to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia – a major player in the war.
Since fighting escalated almost two years ago, the UK has approved £3.3 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia.
British law is very clear: weapons should not be sold if there is a risk they’ll be used in illegal attacks on children.
That’s why we’re urging the UK government to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia. It must also support independent investigations into alleged breaches of international law to ensure those responsible are held to account.
A horrifying crisis
— Save the Children UK (@savechildrenuk) 5 February 2017
Bombs are not the only thing the people of Yemen have to fear.
Now war is pushing the country to the brink of famine.
Two years of brutal fighting have left ports and airports in ruins, making it hard for vital food and medical supplies to get into the country.
Access restrictions are also preventing urgent aid, as well as commercial goods, from being delivered.
Aid must be allowed in
Children face starvation, hospitals are running out of medicines and almost 70% of Yemen’s people are in need of assistance.
Our teams on the ground are working hard to support families and save lives.
But to truly ensure Yemen’s children are protected, the fighting must stop and humanitarian aid and essential supplies must be allowed in.
*Zuhair’s name has been changed to protect his identity.