Two years into the war in Yemen, civilians continue to pay the heaviest price. As of February 2017, over 4,667 civilians have been killed, 8,180 have been injured and at least 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes. All sides to the conflict have failed to take the precautions necessary to spare civilians and civilian objects. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has bombed schools, hospitals, markets and mosques, and has used internationally banned cluster munitions. Pro and anti-Huthi forces have used imprecise weapons in heavily populated civilian areas and have launched attacks from near homes, schools and hospitals.
Over the course of five field missions to Yemen between May 2015 and November 2016, Amnesty International has documented violations by all parties to the conflict. Below is a series of photos, taken mostly during these missions, capturing the stories of civilians bearing the brunt of the country’s forgotten crisis.
“I felt that humanity has ended. I mean, a place of learning, to be hit in this way, without warning, I said, where is humanity? Places of learning are considered sacred. It is supposed to be illegal, in any war, to strike such places.”
– Director of al-Shaymeh School
“We were all at home celebrating the birth of my granddaughter Alaa’, with neighbours and family. I was about to enter the house when suddenly the door came off as the whole house shook. It was like an earthquake. The first bomb hit the maintenance equipment store, the second bomb hit the cafeteria. There was a moment of silence, which I took advantage of to rescue my family. That is when the third bomb landed. The electricity had gone off, I tried to go inside the house to look for a torch and for my family. I was screaming for my daughters, I could hear others screaming in search of their families. But all I saw was my wife and daughters drowning in their blood. Only my daughters Lina (16) and Samar (26) survived as they had run away to the coast when the strikes happened. Three of my daughters, my wife, my daughter’s husband and my granddaughter Alaa’ were killed.”
– Qaed al-Sabri, a technician at the plant, who lost most of his family in the airstrike.
“We came here to escape the war in Huta (a 1km west of Tahrur). We had nowhere else to go. We have nothing. How could I imagine that we were going to be killed here? My girls were killed and I wish I had died with them. I have nothing else in life”.
– Salama Faraa, who lost three daughters, Yusra, 21, Shadia, 19, and Naama, 20 months, in the bombing.
“We go down every day to the valley to herd goats, where there are many small bombs. We found four of them in the morning… they were cylindrical with a red ribbon. We carried them with us while herding. At around 1pm, I started to take the red string with my right hand and pull and [my brother] pulled on the other end of it and then it went off and I fell back. [My brother] was hurt in his stomach and he had fallen down too. We didn’t know it would hurt us.”
– 11-year-old survivor of a submunition incident in Sa’da.
“There was an explosion and the roof came crushing down on us as we slept. I thought we were all going to die. The rocket destroyed Samia’s legs. How will she live now? We don’t have anywhere to go for safety, no one to help us.”
– Najat Abdullah Ahmed, mother of 7-year-old Samia who was injured by a rocket.
“I was filling the jerry can when I heard an explosion nearby. I instinctively went to stand by the school wall for protection, because it is a higher wall. There was another explosion which sent me flying up. My right leg flew off and my left leg was almost completely severed; it was holding by the skin only. I fainted and when I woke up I was at the hospital. I have nightmares all the time; I wake up shaking”.
– Su’ud Amer, who lost both her legs in a mortar attack.
“When we first visited Abdelkhaleq, he had grown a long beard and looked pale and fatigued. We later learned that he was subjected to the worst torture. He had been placed in solitary confinement, denied access to a toilet, made to carry heavy objects and forced to stand on one foot with his hands tied above him. He was also beaten with rifle butts and starved for long periods.
These details took a heavy toll on us all, especially his elderly parents. His mother has visited him twice in prison, but would worry so much afterwards she would end up in hospital with infections. His six-year-old daughter visited him once and was so choked by her tears she could not express her longing to him.”
– Salwa Amran, Abdelkhaleq Amran’s sister-in-law describing the first time his family saw him after he was detained.