Fleeing bombs in Sana'a
When he woke up in the hospital and realized his leg had been amputated, five-year-old Anwar began screaming. No one could calm his tears. He was inconsolable. Anwar could not understand why his leg disappeared and continued asking relatives if he could have it back.
While fleeing the bombings alongside his family and neighbors in Sana’a, Anwar’s leg was hit by a shard of metal. Hours later, it was amputated.
The trauma of amputation
After being discharged from the hospital, Anwar continued to have significant pain and confusion. He eventually returned to school, but cut himself off from classmates and refused to take part in activities.
The hospital staff provided him with a prosthesis, but it was too heavy, forcing him to use crutches, which considerably reduced his mobility.
Rehabilitation care gives new hope
When Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation team in Yemen met Anwar a few months ago, the young boy, who is now nine-year-old, was scared and withdrawn. Aiman Al Mutawaki, a physical therapist with HI, provides special care to Anwar. He receives physical therapy and is being fit with a new prosthesis, which will be properly adapted to his size. This has given Anwar new hope.
Anwar is particularly enthusiastic. In addition to physical therapy, he also receives psychological support from HI’s team. Therapy calms his anxiety. He also feels better knowing he is not alone–other people have also had amputations like him.
Today, Anwar is more outgoing and plays with other children his age. At school, he draws, plays soccer with his friends, and studies hard. "I want to be a doctor,” he says. “I want to help people with disabilities and support my family.”
Humanity & Inclusion and the Yemen crisis
Humanity & Inclusion (which operates under the name Handicap International in Yemen) operated in the country from the early 2000s up to 2012, focusing on physical rehabilitation. Since returning in 2014, our mission has grown. Today, we provide direct services to individuals affected by the ongoing conflict, particularly people with disabilities, through rehabilitation care and psychosocial support at eight public health facilities in and around Sana’a city. Learn more about our work and the Yemen crisis.
Humanity & Inclusion takes a stand against indiscriminate warfare & its devastating impact on civilians
On its Yemen Indiscriminate Warfare website published today to mark four years of conflict in Yemen, Humanity & Inclusion paints a disastrous picture of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
The organization condemns the widespread bombing of populated areas and the use of anti-personnel mines on a scale that has not been seen since the Mine Ban Treaty came into force in 1999. Humanity & Inclusion has helped to set up an emergency rehabilitation service for the war-wounded in Yemen, where it has treated more than 2,500 victims of explosive weapons since 2015. Of these, 300 were mine casualties. Most of the people treated sustain a disability due to their injuries and will need special care for the rest of their lives.
Testimonies reveal the unacceptably high proportion of civilians killed or maimed by bombing, explosive remnants of war, mines, cluster munitions, etc. ACLED has recorded 18,000 airstrikes since March 2015. Observers report the systematic and widespread use of anti-personnel mines in several of the country’s regions. Yemen is now one of the countries most heavily contaminated by explosive remnants of war, mines, improvised explosive devices and other weapons that constantly threaten the lives of civilians caught in the crossfire. Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 14,000 deaths and injuries as a result of explosive violence between 2015 and 2017. Of these 76% were civilians.
"The people we are supporting are traumatized by armed violence," says Maud Bellon, Humanity & Inclusion's Head of Mission in Yemen. "They are disoriented, shocked or depressed. Physical rehabilitation, which may lead to patients being fitted with a prosthesis, is provided alongside psychological support to help them accept their new situation: people are in shock when they lose a limb, and don’t always find it easy to accept their prosthesis. We always combine rehabilitation with psychological support - an activity often neglected in a crisis."
Working in the governorates of Sana’a and Amanat Al Asima, Humanity & Inclusion has treated 4,500 people affected by the conflict since it launched its operations in 2015. Of these, more than 2,500 are casualties of explosive weapons including bombs, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices.
A significant and unprecedented proportion of people treated by Humanity & Inclusion in Yemen are mine casualties: in four years, the organization has cared for 300 casualties of these weapons banned under the Ottawa Treaty since 1999.
As mine casualties often require lower-limb amputation, to meet the specific needs of casualties, Humanity & Inclusion helped set up an emergency rehabilitation service for the war-wounded in Yemen. People injured by bombings suffer complex injuries such as open wounds, fractures, burns, loss of muscle mass and damaged nervous systems. If they fail to start rehabilitation the day after surgery, they risk serious mobility loss, often resulting in disability and social and professional exclusion, reduced income and family impoverishment.
The widespread and repeated use of explosive weapons has a domino effect. In four years, the country has collapsed into chaos. Each month, 600 infrastructures are destroyed or damaged, with health services particularly impacted. Fifty percent of medical facilities no longer function, while demand has surged. Demand for imported goods has led to rampant inflation and also shortages, particularly of food. Meanwhile, the country's counts massive population displacement, with 80% of the population now need some form of humanitarian assistance.
“As assistance is now centralized in Sana’a, thousands of civilians need to travel long distances," Bellon adds. "It takes four hours to travel by road from Al Hudaydah to Sana’a, without counting checkpoints and the risks associated with crossing the front lines. Sometimes it is impossible for people to access services.”
Some 100 makeshift camps, in Hajjah and Al Hudaydah but also in the south of the country, appear and disappear with the fighting. Three million people are displaced inside Yemen and there are an estimated one million ‘returnees’.
“People are moving around all the time and we need to adapt to that," says Thomas Hugonnier, Humanity & Inclusion’s director of operations in the Middle East. "The problem is that, in Yemen, unlike in Iraq, for example, the vast majority are makeshift camps that can disappear almost overnight.”
Alongside complex population movements, NGOs face major security and administrative obstacles that considerably limit their scope of action. “It’s vitally important to ensure the safe and neutral transportation of aid to those in need," Huggonnier adds. "NGOs are working very closely together to tackle the administrative assault course we all face, daily negotiations with the authorities, and so on, but that’s not going to be enough.”
Through its "Stop Bombing Civilians” international campaign, launched in March 2016, Humanity & Inclusion calls on governments to develop a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in order to better protect civilians in conflict areas and assist casualties. The organization is asking the general public to sign its international petition. This petition has already been signed by 463,000 people online and offline.
Interview with Humanity & Inclusion’s spokesperson in Yemen available upon request
Humanity & Inclusion in Yemen
Humanity & Inclusion (working under its original name, 'Handicap International' in Yemen) works in the governorates of Sana'a and Amanat al Asima, in two rehabilitation centers and six of Yemen's largest hospitals, treating patients from across the country. It has assisted more than 20,000 people in four years, of whom 13,000 have received rehabilitation care or advice. The organization has given out more than 21,000 crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, etc. More than 20,000 people have been given psychological support. Humanity & Inclusion has fitted 200 people with artificial limbs and braces through its work with the rehabilitation and orthopedic-fitting center in Sana'a. More than 500 Yemeni health workers in Sana'a and other governorates have been sensitized and trained in early trauma response. We are starting similar activities in Aden and will soon be working in the governorate of Taizz, Hajjah and in the city of Hodeida.
About Humanity & Inclusion
Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International) is an independent charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.
Since its creation in 1982, Humanity & Inclusion has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of 8 national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, co-manage projects and promote the principles and actions of the organization. Humanity & inclusion is one of the six founding associations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, and winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize.
Yasser was doing his homework with his father on the rooftop of the house in Ta'z when a missile exploded. The next day, the 12-year-old boy came out of a coma at the hospital. His father was killed, his house was destroyed, his left leg was gone. After a month of recovery, Yasser's mother decided to take him to Sana'a to follow the rehabilitation care recommended by Humanity & Inclusion's team.
Sana, a psychologist with Humanity & Inclusion, recounts the first time meeting Yasser. "Yasser had lost the taste for everything. He no longer spoke. Refused any contact. It was necessary that we help restore his confidence and the desire to live.
"We took him out of his isolation. He was given a cane that provide better mobility than the crutches he had. He was included in a group with other children his age who were all in the same situation–having to make the same efforts to relearn how to walk. The possibility of an artificial leg gave him the hope of becoming a child again."
Since 2015, Humanity & Inclusion has provided 4,200 prosthetics and orthotics and 21,000 mobility devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers, to Yemenis like Yasser. We've also conducted 20,000 rehabilitation and psychosocial support sessions.
Photo captions: Yasser learns how to walk on his new prosthetic leg with support from physical therapists from Humanity & Inclusion.
The disastrous scenario played out in Syria and Iraq, is being repeated in Yemen. Civilians have been caught up in the fighting while widespread bombing and an armed group resorts to the use of mines. Thomas Hugonnier, Humanity & Inclusion's operations manager in the Middle East, explains our rehabilitation services in Yemen.
"We have set up a war rehabilitation service"
Humanity & Inclusion's rehabilitation team starts working with patients the day after their operation. We supply them with mobility aids, such as crutches, wheelchairs, or walkers. This restores some of their mobility and dignity. This allows them to go to the bathroom on their own, without needing someone to take them. Psychologically, it makes a big difference.
Physical therapists start with basic hands-on treatment. They perform gentle exercises, massage the scar to prevent stiffness, and provide practical advice to patients and their families on how to clean the stump and move without pain. We also show them the exercises they should do in order to restore mobility, prepare the stump for a prosthesis, etc. Caregivers play a important role in the recovery process.
Post-operative care almost didn't exist in Sana'a. We set up an emergency rehabilitation service and trained more than 500 medical staff. Patients would spend days or weeks in their hospital beds without moving. Then, they would return home. When a patient doesn't move often, they risk muscular contraction, which can cause problems bending an affected leg–and therefore walking again–or using an arm to drink, eat, or do other routine tasks.
Our physical therapists teach the patients how to do rehabilitation exercises on their own, such as bending their leg to climb stairs, or doing routine tasks with their arm such as washing, drinking, and dressing themselves. Patients need to understand the risk of disability if rehabilitation exercises are not done properly.
Rehabilitation exercises are always associated with everyday tasks to make sure patients do them at home. They are discharged rapidly from crowded hospitals where new patients arrive daily. We give them as much information as possible in a short space of time to make it more likely they will do exercises at home, and regain full mobility and independence.
The massive use of explosive weapons has wiped out Yemen
The mines, which were thought to have been almost eradicated from use in war, are again being used in numbers in Yemen. The 2018 Mine Observatory reports that Houthi forces have used antipersonnel mines and anti-tank mines, mainly on the west coast of the country, near the port of Hodeidah. Yemen today is one of the most contaminated countries with explosive remnants of war and mines in the world.
According to the UN, 6,000 people in Yemen have died and 10,500 civilians have been wounded. Humanity & Inclusion is there, helping Yemenis regain dignity and independence in the war torn country.
Humanity & Inclusion's work in Yemen
Humanity & Inclusion works with local medical teams in six hospitals and two rehabilitation centers in Sana'a, in the north of the country. Our head of mission in Yemen, Maud Bellon, gives an in-depth overview of the disastrous situation.
Pauling Falipou, Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation expert, explains the different types of injuries inflicted by mines and bombs in Yemen.
The teams work on numerous cases of amputations caused by bombs, landmines or explosive remnants. Landmines in particular, often lead to lower-limb amputations. When someone treads on a mine, they trigger an explosion which rips their leg off. This leaves no choice but to amputate the affected limb.
As for bomb victims, they often sustain complex injuries: open wounds, fractures, burns, loss of muscle mass, nervous system damage, etc. These injuries can be very difficult to treat, and people are often left with life-long pain and sequela.
Humanity & Inclusion’s team also sees lots of patients with gunshot wounds. In these cases, the victims may lose muscle mass but do not usually require amputation. However, they do have a high risk of infection. Patients with gunshot wounds face a long recovery. After undergoing surgery, the rehabilitation required to regain mobility can take months. This long period of convalescence is tantamount to a temporary disability.
Psychological support alongside rehabilitation care
A mine explosion and the resulting loss of a limb are traumatic experiences. Waking up in hospital bed with a leg missing is a complete shock for a person who is already traumatized by the war. This is followed by a period of anxiety. How am I ever going to get back to normal daily life? How can I work and feed my family? Many patients are in a state of complete physical and mental exhaustion. They stop speaking and lose all willpower. They need psychological support.
It is also vital that the patient has a certain level of motivation for their rehabilitation to be effective. If they are not receptive to the care provided, they will not do the exercises which are demanding and sometimes painful. Finally, when they undergo an orthopedic or prosthetic fitting, it’s important that they feel ready to accept this huge change, which doesn’t always feel very natural.
In the last four years we have provided care to 2,500 victims of all types of explosive weapons, including 300 mine victims. If we compare our work here with interventions in other war zones, the proportion of mine victims is very high.
Mines and explosive remnants
Landmines are used in Yemen to stop the enemy from advancing. They are found on the west coast of the country, mainly to the north, with a significant concentration around the city of Hodeidah, which has seen the worst of the fighting in recent months. The victims killed and maimed by landmines are almost exclusively civilians.
The west of the country, mainly to the south, is also where there is the most contamination of explosive remnants of war. These include bombs dropped in raids which do not explode on impact and thus contaminate the district or village where they land, becoming a permanent threat to the population and claiming further victims, usually civilians.
There are many zones where there are no health services whatsoever and the situation has deteriorated during the conflict. The country has numerous areas deprived of medical services and these areas have increased with the war because many health centers have been rendered inoperative by the fighting. People travel incredibly long distances to access treatment.
Humanity & Inclusion's rehabilitation care
Humanity & Inclusion is one of the few organizations providing post-operative rehabilitation services in Yemen. Our teams work in the governorates of Sana'a and Amanat al Asima, in two rehabilitation centers and six of Yemen's largest hospitals, treating patients from across the country. We've assisted more than 20,000 people in four years, of whom 13,000 have received rehabilitation care or advice.
Our rehabilitation staff have fitted 200 people with artificial limbs and braces through the rehabilitation and orthopedic-fitting center in Sana'a, and distributed more than 21,000 mobility devices such as crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs. In addition, more than 20,000 people have been given psychological support.
Photo caption: Erada, 7, lost her left leg after being seriously injured in a bombing while playing with her cousins. Today, she receives rehabilitation care from Humanity & Inclusion's team in Yemen.
Millions of families have been forced to abandon their homes after years of conflict and violence. In places like Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, people struggle to stay alive in their communities, until they have no other choice but to flee.
This month marks two anniversaries that no one is celebrating: Four years of conflict in Yemen and eight in Syria.
- An estimated 190,350 Yemenis have fled to neighboring countries
- More than 280,000 people are seeking refuge in Yemen
- An estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed, according to the United Nations
- As of December 2016, 4.81 million Syrians have fled the country
- 6.3 million Syrians are displaced internally
- More than 10 million Syrians are exposed to the risk posed by explosive remnants of war
- 2.1 million Iraqis displaced inside the country
- More than 360,000 Iraqis displaced, living in unfinished and abandoned buildings
Humanity & Inclusion provides emergency care to people with disabilities and injuries living in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. Every day, our teams meet beneficiaries who share horrifying stories of bombs, torture, terror, and escape. But we take stock of their strength. Their survival. And together we set new goals. We celebrate new victories, however small.
Abdelkrim, 60, from Homs, Syria
"One day, while I was in front of the house, I saw planes in the sky. I thought I saw an unmanned aircraft in the middle of reconnaissance. Then it launched a missile that exploded in the street. Shrapnel came into my left leg." Abdelkrim bandaged his leg and when he finally made it to a doctor, he was told it had to be amputated due to infection. Today, Abdelkrim is recovering thanks to the rehabilitation care he receives from Humanity & Inclusion's team in Jordan. "I wish the war would end and that everyone could return in peace and security."
Warda's family, from Iraq
In February 2017, Warda and her family were caught in an explosion as they were fleeing Mosul, Iraq. After having both of her legs amputated, the young woman recovered in a hospital on the outskirts of the city, with her husband and daughter, who were also injured. Humanity & Inclusion's rehabilitation team provided Warda and her family with psychological support and physical therapy.
Yesser, 12, from Yemen
Yasser was doing homework next to his father when they were both struck by an explosion. Yasser lost his leg and his father did not survive. Today, Yasser receives rehabilitation care from Humanity & Inclusion's team in Yemen.
Wafa, 42, from Homs, Syria
"The planes attacked the city and sent bombs without any mercy to the families and innocent children who still lived there." In July 2012, three bombs fell on Wafa's house. During the attack, Wafa broke her left leg. "When I came out of the coma, my burns and my leg were terribly painful. But this pain was nothing compared to what I felt when I learned that four of my children had died. I could not protect them." Today, Wafa receives rehabilitation care from Humanity & Inclusion's team in Jordan.
Ali, 1, from Iraq
In April 2017, Ali and his family were used as human shields in Mosul, Iraq. Caught in a bombing, Ali was severely injured and his parents and brother were killed. The young boy receives rehabilitation care from Humanity & Inclusion's team in Iraq. Our team also provides his aunt and uncle, who are taking care of him, with advice on how to help Ali with physical therapy exercises.
Kamal, 15, from Dera'a, Syria
"I woke up with shards of glass all over my body and the bedroom door had collapsed on me. The air was dusty. My brother was trying to take me to my mother's room, but I could not hold onto both of my legs." The family manages, with difficulty, to bring Kamal to the nearest hospital: "My whole body was covered with blood. I was operated on briefly at first, then I had two operations to both my hand and my legs. I've never used weapons, and yet it was me that was bombed. I feel only sadness. When you do not feel safe in your own country, where can you be?" Today, Kamal receives rehabilitation support from Humanity & Inclusion in Jordan.
Ali, 20, from Syria
In 2013, Ali lost the use of his legs after being seriously injured in a bombing in Syria. The young Syrian refugee now lives with his family in a makeshift camp in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon. Humanity & Inclusion's rehabilitation team has been helping him adapt to his disability through physical therapy.
Since the escalation of conflict in Yemen almost four years ago, the humanitarian needs have increased drastically, with an estimated 24 million people or 80% of the population in need of some form of humanitarian assistance in 2019.1 This figure represents an increase of 2 million people or 10% in just 12 months contributed to by an almost total collapse of Yemen’s economy, conflict across the country, violations of international law, as well as increased destruction of civilian infrastructure, notably schools and hospitals, and denial of access to basic services which in turns contribute to deaths by preventable diseases and significant increases in the number of displaced families and in gender-based violence.
Today, Yemen is closer to famine than ever before. A total of 15.9 million people, over 50% of the population, are severely food insecure, despite ongoing humanitarian food assistance.2 Current estimates show that around a quarter of a million people are living in famine-like conditions.3
- The number of internally displaced people has reached 3.3 million, 76% of whom are women and children, and this number is expected to increase to 3.9 million in 2019.4
- 7 million people are malnourished, including 2 million children making it one child in five,5 and more than 1 million pregnant and lactating women.6
- 400,000 children under five years old suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and an estimated 85,000 children might have already died7 from malnutrition or other treatable diseases since the beginning of the conflict.
- 16 million people are in need of WASH assistance and basic health care.
- 4.1 million children are out of school or in need of educational assistance.3 million Yemeni women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence8 and the rate of forced and early marriage of girls has tripled since 2015.9
- The UN estimates that there are 7.5 million Yemenis that humanitarian partners do not have regular access to.10
We, both national and international humanitarian organizations in Yemen are working tirelessly to address these needs despite security concerns, access restrictions and other bureaucratic impediments. Collectively we are working in 19 governorates and each year we reach millions of people, including women and children. Yet we are constantly confronted by the scale of human suffering and we struggle to deliver at such a large scale when so many people are in dire need of assistance.
As we approach the 2019 High-Level Pledging Event for Yemen, in addition to requesting adequate levels of funding to implement the UN Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for this year, we urge donors to:
- Ensure a broad representation of donors contribute generously to funding the Humanitarian Response Plan in order to guarantee a principled and accountable response. It is critical to have a more inclusive group of donors at the table where decisions on Yemen’s humanitarian response are being made.
- Reconsider the modality and conditionality of funding, including the need for increased flexibility and long-term funding, to enable humanitarian organizations to better respond to this humanitarian crisis while navigating prohibitive bureaucratic impediments and security challenges.
- Increase funding to specific sectors such as protection, reproductive health and mental health and psychosocial support services, gender-based violence services and education. Investing in these sectors is likely to reduce the long-term damaging impact of the conflict on the Yemeni population, particularly women and children.
- Invest in early recovery and development in areas that are not directly affected by the conflict to strengthen the resilience of the Yemeni people, allowing them to recover their livelihoods and resume their lives. In addition to the focus on conflict affected areas, donors need to think creatively about supporting other parts of the country which may be less affected by the conflict but are also experiencing insecurity, political instability, weak governance and poor access to resources and services.
- Use their leverage with national authorities in Sana’a and Aden to negotiate access and remove conditionalities imposed on the humanitarian community. While access constraints have been challenging, NGOs have been able to deliver and save many lives across large parts of the country, and remain the main implementors on the ground. Donors must not stop funding us because of access challenges but rather we need your support to overcome these obstacles and that is why we report them.
As international organizations working in the field, we believe that money alone is not the solution for the Yemen crisis, which has been described as the ‘worst humanitarian crisis of our time’. Above all, we urge the donors and the international community to support measures that protect Yemeni civilians, demand accountability for violations and disregard for the laws of war, along with peace negotiations and pressure their allies to find a peaceful political solution to the conflict in Yemen. While only peace can end the suffering of the Yemeni people, humanitarian assistance must not be contingent on the peace process. The road to peace in Yemen is long with many steps ahead, but people are suffering now. Humanitarian and early recovery assistance will still be required for years to come to recover the damage that has been done during the years of war, and the international community must not lose any time to continue to sustainably and comprehensively address the needs of the Yemeni people.
- UN ‘Overview of the Humanitarian Needs in Yemen’
- Yemen: Acute Food Insecurity Situation December 2018 - January 2019, available at: http://www.ipcinfo.org/ipc- country-analysis/details-map/en/c/1151858/
- This means they are in IPC category 5
- Nutrition Cluster Data
- Save the Children press release, 2018
- UNFPA Humanitarian Response Plan in Yemen 2018, available at: https://yemen.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub- pdf/UNFPA%20Yemen%202018%20Respone%20brochure%20-%20English%20-%20printed%20final.compressed.pdf
- Female respondents aged 15 to 49 years in six governorates. UNICEF, Falling through the cracks. The Children of Yemen, 2017.
- Famine Action Mechanism Workshop, Amman, January 24, 2019.
On August 2, 2018, Nora, 30, traveled with her sister and several friends to the Al-Thawra Hospital in Al-Hudaydah, Yemen, to visit a relative. Just as their bus arrived at the hospital’s entrance, a missile landed in front of them and exploded. Al-Hudaydah has been the site of major fighting during the war in Yemen, and a new airstrike was underway.
“I crawled out of the bus and called to my sister and friends but there was no reply,” says Nora. “Then I saw my sister, who was pregnant. She was dying.”
“As I looked at my sister, I heard a familiar sound. As others around me recognized the whistle of a fighter plane, they started screaming: ‘Run! They’re going to drop another bomb.’”
A second missile landed, and the explosion sent shrapnel flying. “I saw one person who was hit in the head and chest, and another whose face was ripped to shreds,” says Nora. “I was so shocked I didn’t realize that I had been hit too. My right leg had been torn off in the first explosion."
Nora had what was left of her leg amputated at Al-Thawrah Hospital. She was then transferred to the hospital in Sana'a, where Humanity & Inclusion works, and underwent a second surgery.
After Nora’s operation, HI’s team immediately stepped in to begin physical rehabilitation and mental health counseling.
"We teach her how to manage her pain and practice strengthening exercises so that she can eventually walk with a prosthesis,” says HI Physical Therapist Feida. “We also massage her scar to keep the skin and muscles flexible to avoid the development of sores that might make wearing a prosthesis painful. One of our psychologists is helping her to overcome the trauma caused by the explosion, her amputation, and the death of her sister. With a little more time and effort, Nora should be ready to receive her new leg soon.”
On an autumn day, Raja, 13, was tending her family’s sheep on a mountainside near her home in Yemen when suddenly a loud blast shattered the quiet. Raja had stepped on a hidden landmine, and the impact of the explosion threw her into the air and tore her right leg apart. She fell to the earth unconscious and bleeding profusely.
Friends who were with her carried her to the nearest health center, where nurses saved her life by stopping the bleeding. Due to the seriousness of her condition, she was evacuated to a hospital in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, where doctors amputated her badly damaged leg.
Humanity & Inclusion, which has been supporting people with disabling injuries at the Sanaa hospital since 2014, provided Raja with a wheelchair and made a rehabilitation plan to help her recover. However, the organization first addressed her mental health. An HI psychologist worked with Raja to process the trauma of her experience and help her overcome some of the anger and sadness she felt.
Two months after the surgery, when Raja’s leg was healed sufficiently, she was fitted with a prosthetic leg. Getting back on her feet had a radical impact on her morale.
Following months of rehabilitation and training, Raja felt confident walking long distances with her new leg. Her depression lifted and she looked forward to the future.
"I am happy to have faced my fears,” says Raja. “Now I want to go back home, see my friends, and return to normal life. Before my accident, I had planned to start school. Now I want to fulfill this dream, and hopefully one day become a humanitarian worker, like the HI staff who helped me.”