Save the Children Staff Describes Scenes of Devastation at School in Sanaa: “Children were bleeding on the floor, calling for their parents"
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (April 8, 2019) – An explosion yesterday near a school in Sana’a killed eleven schoolchildren and injured numerous others.
A team of Save the Children aid workers immediately intervened at Al Raee school, and helped transfer wounded schoolgirls 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 of the girls died in the evening.
The aid agency will continue transfers in the coming days, to ensure the wounded students get the best medical care available, and will cover the cost.
A Save the Children child protection worker who rushed to the scene of the school described scenes of devastation.
“I received the news yesterday midday, and we hurried to the school. The scene when we arrived there was devastating. Children were bleeding and calling for their parents. Parents were searching for their children, worried if they are still alive or dead. Some of the children were severely injured, and they died in their classrooms.”
“People were running in the streets and most of them were injured and calling for help,” continued the child protection worker.
“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 to which she was admitted. 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.”
14 year-old Amina*, was one of the girls Save the Children transported. “I will never go to school again,” she said as she lay in hospital.
“Details of what happened are still unclear,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children Country Director in Yemen, “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.”
“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,” said Kirolos, “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 was 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.
To learn more about Save the Children’s work in Yemen and donate to the response visit www.SavetheChildren.org/Yemen.
*Name has been changed to protect identity
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