'As Yemen's president, I'd clean up all the blood'

'As Yemen's president, I'd clean up all the blood'
Yemen's brutal two-year war has forced millions to flee their homes, but this simple video speaks of the heartbreak, struggles, and aspirations of the conflict's youngest victims.
3 min read
22 September, 2016
The video interviews five displaced Yemeni children [YouTube - Oxfam]
"If I was the president of Yemen, I would clean up all the blood," a child said in a simple yet powerful new video created by a Yemeni filmmaker.

Displacement is free of abstractions, dramatic music and state-of-the-art graphics. Yet it manages to deliver a powerful message for the millions of Yemenis forced to flee their homes during the war.

Five children, all who look younger than ten, described their personal experiences of the war with heartbreaking honesty and clarity.

"My sister Rana and I used to attend ballet classes," said a tearful young girl about her life before the conflict.

"I was so young that my height was ground-level," said another endearing child with complete seriousness.

New figures suggest that three out of four Yemenis who fled the war were forced to due to Saudi-led coalition air raids, Oxfam said.

One in five said they had their homes destroyed.

"I was in a deep sleep," a young boy said, before raising his hand like a fighter jet and recreating the sounds of missiles he heard back in Sanaa.

Just under two-thirds of the 1,000 refugees surveyed by the international human rights group said close family members had died or sustained injuries during the war.

"The explosions were so red," another child explained.

They were "bigger than a volcano" another older child said.

A record-breaking 65 million people are on the move worldwide, causing the worst humanitarian refugee disaster since the Second World War. 

It has been described as a "crisis of epic proportion" by US President Barack Obama.

I made this video hoping to highlight the crisis in Yemen and how the situation is rapidly deteriorating

“The war escalated so quickly, and I found myself and my family displaced due to the earthquake-like explosion in Faj Attan on April 20 2015,” al-Ghabri told The New Arab.

“We were displaced to a relative's house along with four other families,” she said, adding that there were “24 person in one house and we were sharing everything for almost four months.”

But as the world focuses on the wave of Syrian and Iraqi refugees crossing borders in Europe, Yemen's migrants remain unaccounted for across the world.

The war forced millions of Yemenis to seek safety in other parts of the country, with more than 75,000 seeking refuge in makeshift camps across the Gulf of Aden in Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan.

Oxfam figures show 90,880 have entered into neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Oman, while others have headed towards to Egypt and as far as Malaysia – two of the few nations that allow access to Yemenis.

"I made this video hoping to highlight the crisis in Yemen and how the situation is rapidly deteriorating," said Shatha al-Ghabri, who herself was forced to leave Yemen to seek medical treatment for her mother in Malaysia.

While there, she met other Yemenis who followed in the same footsteps and she wanted to share those stories.

The filmmaker said that she wished to "amplify the voices of Yemenis seeking peace and to draw the attention of decision makers to how this war is sabotaging everything good in Yemen, from every aspect".

"I chose children because my thought was 'if I – as an adult – felt so depressed during my stay in Yemen, and still stressed from the situation in Yemen, then how are these children feeling," she told The New Arab.

According to the United Nations, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the start of the Saudi-led coalition's bombing campaign 18 months ago.

A recent breakdown in negotiations between the two sides make it likely this figure will increase further.

But coalition bombs continue to hit major cities, with homes, schools, and hospitals as well as rebel-military positions being destroyed.

Despite this, millions of displaced Yemenis still consider the now-turned war zone as home and hope to return to their once peaceful lives.