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The Massacre of the Innocents in Yemen

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Ahmad Algohbary and Faisal Edroos report from Dahyan in the wake of the Saudi coalition massacre of dozens of children on August 9:
Three days after the attack, victims’ families continued to throng to the scene of the attack, hoping to find the remains of their loved ones, reported The American Conservative (US).

“I didn’t find any of him,” said Abdelhakim Amir as he searched the wreckage for his son, Ahmed.
“Not his finger, not his bone, not his skull, nothing.”

CNN confirmed earlier reporting that the bomb used in the attack was sold by the U.S. and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The attack killed more than 50 civilians, including 40 children, and injured another 79 people. Orla Guerin report here on the massacre and its aftermath.

The attack on the market and school bus in Dahyan was an especially bloody and outrageous crime, but it was unfortunately not unusual for the coalition to deliberately drop bombs on civilian targets in Yemen. It happens often enough that no one can seriously believe that coalition governments are trying to minimize civilian casualties, and in this case there was obviously no attempt to avoid killing civilians at all. The U.S. provides the weapons, refueling, intelligence, and political cover that enable the Saudis and their allies to continue doing these things to the people of Yemen.

The survivors of the attack were fortunate not to lose their lives, but they will have to live with the memory of their slaughtered classmates. Like so many other Yemeni children scarred and traumatized by the war, they will suffer from this attack long after the war ends. Marta Rivas Blanco, a nurse with the Red Cross serving in Yemen, recounted her experience in treating the survivors of the massacre:

Physically, the children will recover. But I worry for their mental state. Many were in shock; they had no idea what had just happened to them. One minute they were on a bus, the next they were in a hospital.

The health system in Yemen is on the brink of collapse and Saada is a very poor area. There is little by way of psychological support. This attack could affect the children long after their wounds have healed.

The Al Jazeera report quotes one of the survivors, Mokhtar, who is still suffering from the trauma he experienced:

Close to him, his son crouches near the bomb site, still haunted by memories of the attack.

“My father says he will buy me toys and get me a new school bag. But I don’t want a new school bag. I hate school bags,” said eight-year-old Mokhtar before adding that his education ended the day his friends died.

“I don’t want to go anywhere near a bus. I hate buses, I hate school and I can’t sleep. I see my friends in my dreams begging me to rescue them.

“So, from now on, I’m going to stay at home.”

An entire generation of Yemenis has been scarred by years of violence, deprivation, disease, and fear. UNICEF now estimates that 66,000 Yemeni children die from preventable causes each year. Those tens of thousands of Yemeni children are being killed by this war just as surely as those boys who were murdered in Dahyan by a U.S.-made, Saudi coalition-dropped bomb, and their deaths are just as senseless and avoidable. The U.S. government has it in its power to cut off the coalition and halt their war effort, and in so doing our government could end a war that it has disgracefully enabled for more than three years. The U.S. should have done this long ago, but in the wake of yet another horrific massacre of innocents it is imperative that our government end all support for the war, cease all arms sales to the coalition’s members, and insist that the Saudis and their allies accept a cease-fire and enter into negotiations to resolve the conflict.

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