” Timed ” Childhood Games in Yemen!

Amran -Yemen (to highlight on victims child remnants of war and advocate for the need to protect children)

Children of the world find in-play a breathing space full of innocence, amusement and fun except the children of Yemen!

They suddenly face the death games, that steal their dreams, fun and parts of their bodies.

” I will never ever forget that Black Day .” this is how Ayman Al-Afari (9 years old) and Iyad Al-Afari (3 years old)’s mother expressed her feeling – who live in Al-Habla village in Amran Governorate, northern Yemen, that is controlled by the Houthi group (Ansar Allah) Since the start of the war in 2015 –  while she is looking at her crippled child in front of her,  who is unable to play like the rest of the children , about the enormity of what happened to her children, and also reflected badly at   her !

On Monday evening, exactly in 01-05-2023, Ayman and Iyad have gone out with their friends in the neighborhood, to play in an open space fraught by houses that is separating by narrow trenches-like corridors where their feet drove them to. Then, a huge explosion had happened, the villagers people rushed to the place of sound and found the children between killed or wounded !

The children’s mother says with deep sorrow (a witness to the incident): ” The children found in the narrow corridors a strange object iron tube-like, they played with it, thinking it was a toy, they rolled it down with their feet and kicked it until it exploded.”

She start muttering, by the feelings of sorrow and subjugation, ” Iyad died directly, and Ayman and two other children were severely injured”.

Abdulaziz Al-Afari continues – a relative of the victims-  by saying: ” We helped the children by taking them to Al-Salam Hospital at the village nearby for getting the first-aid, but it was much worse, so we took them to the European hospital in the capital Sana ‘a.”

Iyad died while his brother suffered multiple injuries, one of them is his head skull and his left foot, as a result he underwent several surgeries to avoid complications, but then stopped completing them, due to its expensive costs that have burdened his parents.

According to a medical report from the European hospital, Ayman was hospitalized with a broken left leg with bleeding and a skull injury, he was inserted to the surgical department to be performed a broken leg bone reply with external stabilizer and skull restoration, but he still needs to have bone transplants in the skull three months after the injury. This added an additional burden to his family, along with the costs of his ongoing treatment.

Ayman also suffers from a poor psychological condition, due to his restriction on movement and to refrain from going out, besides his fears of being denied going to school because of his injury, which appeared to be evident with his sad features and weary looks, adding to this his bouts of fear, dismay and sleep disorder that have accompanied him since the incident (according to his mother’s say).

His mother, who witnessed the incident and her children who were drowned in blood, was severely traumatized, that heightened her fear and concern for her children, so she was preventing them from going out except with their parents.

The children of the area have also completely refrained from going out to the street for fear of being caught by death games as victims of their love of playing in open spaces (according to eyewitnesses).

It is worth mentioning that the area of Al-qafla in Al-Habla village – Shahara District / Amran Governorate has witnessed similar and frequent incidents of war remnants explosions since the war started on 25 March 2015, In which left dozens victims, most of them children. In the absence of clear policies and procedures to clean-up the city of the remnants of war and unexploded ordnance and raise awareness of the importance of avoiding touching or playing with strange objects that may exist in the areas that have experienced previous battles, and have not been cleaned from residues.

Killing and maiming are considered one of the grave violations of children’s rights in armed conflict, criminalized by international laws and social norms. All children have an inherent right to live safely.

According to a report released by the United Nations in early June, 544 of children who were being verified of their cases are found to be killed and maimed (432 boys and 112 girls), with the main causes of 282 children’s death being explosive remnants of war.

The story shows significant violations of children’s rights in Yemen caused by mines and explosive remnants of war.

The international community and the Governments concerned must therefore join forces to stop such violations and protect children from these deadly dangers. The State must act immediately to address this problem and ensure protection and care for affected children.

We should all stand together in order to protect children’s rights in Yemen. We must focus on the clearance of these deadly mines and develop the security measures to reduce these disasters. We must strive to provide full health care for injured children and war victims, we must work to provide psychological support to them and their affected families.

At last – this story makes us realize the urgent need to spread awareness and move immediately.

Let’s work together to end this hell, and protect children’s rights and their right to live a safe and stable life,  a promising future as well .

An Arabic copy can be found at: