Monday, 01 June, 2020
Yemen's forgotten children

Yemen's forgotten children

Saqib Akbar

During the days of Eid-ul-Adha, Pakistani media remained busy showing pictures and videos of sacrificial animals and other things related to them and it seemed as if this was the most important news across the world. In this scenario nobody was knowing about how the global butchers were slaughtering Muslim children and citizens at many places on this planet. Perhaps, our broadcasting agencies are instructed to keep their masses busy in such type of news and programs so that they remain ignorant about how many populated areas of Muslims were destroyed yesterday and how many towns were raised to ground today and how many dead bodies of humans were drenched in blood as a result of this devastation.  

Shocking news stories kept on coming from Palestine, Syria and Yemen throughout Eid days, but nothing of that sort from our media. But I was not oblivious to it as I have the habit of keeping myself abreast of the developments happening around the world. Yemen was made the largest slaughter house where 22 children and 4 women were killed on 24 August 2018 (3rd day of Eid here in Pakistan) in air raids carried out by fighter jets from Saudi-led coalition. According to the BBC, the attack took place at the IDP camp in Al-Kouai, Duraihami, which lies about 20km from the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodaydah.

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has also targeted civilian population several times before. Almost 10,000 people have been killed and more than 55,000 injured in these attacks so far, according to the United Nations. 22 million people – almost 80% of the Yemeni population are living in precarious conditions and are in urgent need of food, water and medical supplies, according to the UN. Yemen is currently facing the world's biggest food crisis. It has resulted in the outbreak of cholera there, endangering the lives of millions of people.

It is to be remembered that out of the 22 governorates of Yemen, only one is in the control of the supporters of ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is backed by Saudi-led coalition. Houthis are controlling more than 80% of Yemen.  Therefore, the Saudi forces are free to cause death and destruction wherever they want. They are free to attack markets, hospitals or schools because most part of Yemen is under the control of those who have been declared as rebels by the Saudis and why Riyadh will not consider them rebels when they have refused to bow down before the monarchs and their masters, whilst it has always been a custom that none shall walk with his head held high when a king is at the helm.

In the beginning of this month too, Saudi jets bombed a school bus, killing 45 people, many of them children under the age of 15 who were in school uniforms.  77 people were injured in this attack. The school bus was going through a market in the town of Dhayan when it was targeted. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), following an attack on a bus driving children in Dahyan market, northern Saada, [an ICRC-supported] hospital received dozens of dead and injured and it had become very difficult for the doctors to cope with the situation. The ICRC said its medical team at the hospital had received the bodies of 29 children, all under 15 years of age. The ICRC said it emphatically that under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict. The Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland called it a grotesque and shameful attack that showed blatant disregard for rules of war, while the Saudi coalition commanders defended the action as a legitimate military action. The coalition spokesman Col Turki al-Malki said the airstrike was a legitimate military action, conducted in conformity with international law.

It is worth remembering that no global forum allowed Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen. However, since it has got the backing of the world powers and as such is free to do whatever it wishes in Yemen, and if any institution or person at the world level is compelled to condemn the Saudi actions, it does not go beyond empty rhetoric. If notice would have been taken at the global level of anyone incident relating to killing of children before, then another such tragedy could have been avoided. 

Saudi Arabia and its allies, including mainly the United Arab Emirates, launched brutal war against Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, in 2015. From that time till today, Yemen has been facing air, ground and naval blockade. Despite laying this brutal siege, the regional powers equipped with world’s most advanced weaponry could not force Yemenis, who are ready to die for their honour, to surrender. In the face of this stiff resistance, these powers are continuously proclaiming that the Houthis are being supported by Iran. 

The position of the former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is nothing more than a puppet and apparently he is being supported by regional Arab monarchs, who are being backed by global imperialistic forces. These regional and global powers have got no excuse for their brutal campaign against the impoverished Yemenis other than saying that they are being patronized by Iran. When the name of Iran comes, every attack and every killing becomes legitimate and valid.

Sad to say that those, who shed tears in the memory of the children of Ghouta and who became restless on the plight of Rohingya Muslims, have decided to remain silent when it comes to the children in Yemen. On the other hand, our media has decided to only show that image to the world that the Western media will allow it to put on view, otherwise, it will keep its masses absorbed sometimes in the name of trivial things related to Eid festivals and at times in other meaningless activities. My humble request will be: 

Rahte hain kuch malool chahry padoos ma
Itna na taiz kijye dholak ki thaap ko

(There are some sad faces living in the neighbourhoods, so don’t play the drum so loud.)

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