A report from a clinical and forensic psychologist just back from Yemen offers a disturbing picture of the horror drones have inflicted on children, who are "traumatized and re-traumatized" by the strikes whose use "amounts to a form of psychological torture and collective punishment."
The findings come from clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Peter Schaapveld, just back from a week-long visit to Yemen, who presented at a press conference on Monday his evidence of a 'psychological emergency' in the country as a result of drone strikes, and of the particularly heavy toll they have on the mental health of children, plagued with PTSD as the mental anguish from the deadly strikes lasts long after the sound of the unmanned aircraft above.
London-based human rights charity Reprieve reports that Schaapveld said:
What I saw in Yemen was deeply disturbing. Entire communities – including young children who are the next generation of Yemenis– are being traumatised and re-traumatised by drones. Not only is this having truly awful immediate effects but the psychological damage done will outlast any counter programme and surely outweigh any possible benefits.
UK's Channel 4 News reports that Schaapveld described "hollowed-out shells of children" and the story of one 8-year-old girl whose house is next to one hit by a presumed drone strike:
"Her father said that she vomits every day, and also when she hears aircraft, or drones, or anything related," said Dr Schaapveld. "She said, in her own words, 'I am scared of those things because they throw missiles.'".
Dr Schaapveld also said the girl suffered from nightmares. "She has been waking terrified from her sleep," he said. "She points to the ceiling and says 'people there want me to suffocate'.
"Her dreams are of dead people, planes and people running around scared."
"Her dreams are of dead people, planes and people running around scared."Kat Craig, Legal Director at Reprieve who also recently returned from Yemen, added that "drones abjectly fail to achieve their purported purpose," saying that Schaapveld's
findings represent further evidence that drones not only kill innocent civilians, but that their use amounts to a form of psychological torture and collective punishment. Children are afraid to go to school and adults are unable to work, socialise or function with any semblance of normality. As a result drones abjectly fail to achieve their purported purpose: instead of keeping us safe they breed animosity and tear apart the fabric of some of the poorest and disenfranchised communities in the world. A hellfire missile costs over $60,000 which could be spent building schools and wells. Yemen needs aid and our support, not drones.