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The violence of daily life in Yemen

Children in Yemen are growing up traumatised by the war they don’t understand and violence they can’t control, writes filmmaker Khadija Al-Salami.

The war in Yemen caused untold damage and destruction – and caused the deaths of more than 10,000 people according the United Nations.

This week’s Dateline film, ‘Yemen’s Children of War’ explores the violence and danger of everyday life in Yemen through the eyes of three young children.

The filmmaker Khadija Al-Salami wrote a brief reflection of her time reporting the story, and what she witnessed

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Making this film was a real nightmare.

When the war started I was devastated and all I wanted to do was going back to Yemen and be with my family. I felt so hopeless in the face of a war where cluster bombs were killing civilians despite being prohibited by international law. The worst aspect is that this war is carefully hidden from the rest of the world. 

It took me two years to reach Yemen as Saudi Arabia imposed a total blockade on the country by air, sea and land, which caused the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. 

Finally, I was able to go with the UN humanitarian flight.

When I arrived I saw 11-year-old Ahmed by the window of his house trying to shoot down the bomber planes with an old rifle belong to his grandfather.

I was intrigued by the boy and I went to talk to his mother who told me that her son has been traumatised by this war. This conversation gave me the idea to make the film through the eyes of children, because they are the first victims of this unjust war and don’t understand why they are killed, and why millions of children are deprived from going to school and living their childhood in peace.

I asked Ahmed to play and do what he does every day and met his 9-year-old sister Rima who, almost every day, draws the Saudi-led coalition planes bombing them. Then I met 9-year-old Youssef, who is Ahmed and Rima’s nephew. I told them to ask the adults the questions that come to their mind. Their perspective is one we often don’t hear in stories on war.

Click Here to watch the full episode: Yemen's Children Of War