Yasser al Hibshi, 38, lost his house and three of his children in one of the first air raids launched by the Saudi-led coalition on the night of 26 March, 2015. He revisits his neighbourhood and speaks on the site of the ruins of his house about that fateful night.
"An air strike hit us on 26 March, 2015, in the first strikes on Yemen. It was between 2am and 2.25am, I was asleep and can’t tell you the exact time.
"Three of my children were killed: my daughter Aisha, 11, and my sons Ammar, 17, and Alaa al Deen, 14.
"I was taken by an ambulance to hospital where I stayed for more than 15 days. I was injured in my head and have two parts of my spine broken. I was in a coma and had no idea what had happened, no idea that my children had died.
"My relatives used to visit me in hospital and I thought my children were in the intensive care unit, not in the morgue. I thought they were OK. I didn’t know until I had surgery in my spine. I got out of surgery and after some five days they started giving me the news gradually. They were gradually telling me this neighbor has passed away, the other neighbour has passed away… I then asked them directly: where are my children? Then they told me that my children had passed away. Three of them. There were some 27 others from Al Muallem’s family, Al Hadrami and Al Jermuzee… all of them were my neighbours. Until this day I expect them to show up.
"I took me more than five years to save money and build this house. We lived in it for around 15 years. I had a stable life… my children, my house, my car, my shop … It’s all gone now. I used to have a grocery shop, a car, and I was coping… my kids were studying…. Today we have to pay rental fees and suffering without any source of livelihood. I have no source of income now except for the help I get from good people. Some NGOs reached out to us but now we’re not getting anything. I still have spinal injuries… If I fully recovered I would look for work, but it’s taking long. I feel a lot of pain if I had to pick up something heavy.
"We won’t die of hunger because some relatives and friends are helping us. I’ve sold my car and my shop so I can cover my children’s needs.
"Yes my children still go to school. One, Najm al Deen, is in the ninth grade. The other is living with his grandpa because he’s still traumatized. He’s staying at my father’s house to live away from the tragedy and overcome the trauma of what happened to us. He was not in the house during the air strike so we try to make him forget what happened to his siblings, because the neighbourhood would always remind him of this tragedy. We were thinking of sending my other son with him but he has not yet fully recovered… he still has shrapnel in his body. Now he’s getting treatment and continues going to school.
"I want to tell the world that we’ve had enough of the war. There is too much tragedy, so many families have been wiped out, for what? We hope that God will deliver Yemen and the Yemenis out of this situation.
We hope to get out of this crisis."
Photo: Karl Schembri/NRC