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US Drone Strikes Necessitate Counseling Center for 'Traumatized' Children

'The people's cries have been met only with more missiles raining down from the skies above.'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Yemen had to set up a counseling center to help children deal with the psychological trauma of U.S. drone attacks, a Yemeni official told the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child this week.

Children in Yemen. (Photo: kate_griffin13/cc/flickr) Clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Peter Schaapveld has previously explained how children in the impoverished country are "traumatized and re-traumatized by drones," and described one young girl whose "dreams are of dead people, planes and people running around scared."

Kat Craig, Legal Director of UK-based human rights group Reprieve, stated that Yemeni "President Hadi's agreements with the US are trumping Yemen's responsibility to protect its children. Instead of allowing the U.S. to bomb his country to pieces and then setting up a recovery center, President Hadi should listen to his Parliament and stop the drone strikes."

In December, the Yemeni Parliament called for an end to U.S. drone strikes on the country following a strike that targeted a wedding party and killed a dozen people.  Evidence gathered by Reprieve has forced the administration to investigate the strike.

2014 has brought a continuation of U.S. drone strikes on Yemen, with a Yemeni farmer the being the first known civilian casualty on Wednesday.

Baraa Shiban, Reprieve's Yemen project co-ordinator, wrote in an op-ed this week:

Our President may reassure the U.S. of his support for drone strikes, but he does so in complete contradiction to the Yemeni people's wishes. This year, two of Yemen's greatest democratic institutions made this clear. Yemen's National Dialogue Conference -- praised by Obama as a "historic" institution -- and the Yemeni Parliament have both voted overwhelmingly to ban the use of drones.

For a country so often divided, this unanimity from Yemen's key democratic bodies shows the strength of public opinion against drones. But the people's cries have been met only with more missiles raining down from the skies above. How can we in Yemen build our fledgling democracy when our collective will is ignored by Western democracy's most powerful proponent?

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