For Immediate Release
Yemen 'Set Up a Counseling Centre' for Children Because of Drone Strikes
LONDON - A Yemeni delegation to the UN yesterday admitted that it has had to establish a counselling centre for children because the level of traumatisation caused by US drone attacks in the country is so high.
At a periodic review of Yemen by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child yesterday, the Yemeni delegation was asked by the Committee about the psychological impact of drone strikes on children. The Yemeni official said that following a drone attack on a residential area, they had found it necessary to set up a counselling centre.
The delegation also stressed that the country's Parliament has voted to stop US drone strikes, saying:
“The Yemeni Parliament one month ago adopted a prohibition of American drones carrying out attacks in Yemen and we will continue to review and discuss this issue.”
When asked by a member of the committee how Yemen is trying to prevent drone strikes, the delegation said:
“We have signed an agreement with the US and other countries to fight terrorism…We will fight terrorism wherever it occurs in conformity with our agreement with the US.” The delegation then went on to admit that, “Of course mistakes have been made.”
These statements follow on from a report from UN Secretary General, Ban-ki Moon, to the Security Council last year by stating that drones were violating a range of children’s rights from their right to life to their right to education.
CIA drone strikes in Yemen have killed an estimated 42 children. In March last year Dr Peter Schaapveld, an expert in psychological trauma assessment and treatment told British MPs, following a trip assessing victims and communities in Yemen, that US drones in the country were “causing a psychological emergency.”
Reprieve Legal Director Kat Craig said: “In places like Yemen, the US drone programme is terrorising entire civilian populations, nearly half of which are children. President Hadi's agreements with the US are trumping Yemen's responsibility to protect its children. Instead of allowing the US to bomb his country to pieces and then setting up a recovery centre, President Hadi should listen to his Parliament and stop the drone strikes.”
Notes to editors
2. The report to the UN Security Council can be found here.
3. Reprieve's report, 'Drones: No safe place for children' can be found here.
4. The comments by the Yemeni delegation were made during a UN hearing in Geneva.
Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.