Yemen: Helping War Survivors Recover Physically and Mentally


Since March 2015, the conflict in Yemen has left more than 6,000 people dead and 28,500 people injured. Handicap International provides the injured with physical therapy, mobility devices, and psychological support at three health facilities in the capital city of Sana’a. Bushra, 24, is one of them.

Bushra sits on her bed at Al Thawra hospital in Sana’a with her fists clenched. The last few months have been very hard. Originally from Dhamar, some 75 miles from Sana’a, Bushra was injured in an air strike that destroyed her neighbor’s house.

“After the bomb exploded, I felt a sharp pain in my leg and I couldn’t walk,” says Bushra. “They took me to the medical center in Dhamar, but my injuries were too serious. My father immediately decided to rent a car and take me to Sana’a.”

In Sana’a, Bushra was referred to Al Thawra hospital where Handicap International works. She learned her thighbone was broken and she would need multiple surgeries to repair it. After her first operation, Handicap International staff gave Bushra a walking frame.

“They taught me how to use it and I now can move around again,” she explains.

To help people like Bushra become more self-reliant, the organization has donated more than 1,300 mobility aids—crutches, walking frames, and wheelchairs—to the health facilities it supports. A total of 713 people have benefited to date.

Traumatized by the air strike and feeling very lonely, Bushra finds life in the hospital very hard. “I’ve been in hospital for three weeks and I really miss my family,” she says. “My father has been great, but he can’t really afford to stay here.”

To help Bushra and her father cope, Handicap International’s teams give them regular psychological support. These counseling sessions are important because, like most casualties of the conflict in Yemen, Bushra’s injuries aren’t just physical.

“Victims of war often feel they’re worth less because of their injuries, but when someone listens to their problems, it helps them feel better,” says Malikah, a member of the Handicap International psychological support team. “They deserve our undivided attention.”

Bushra needs all the support she can get to help her stay strong while she awaits further operations. Her next surgery is tomorrow.

“I can’t think about anything else at the moment. All I want is to walk again and get my life back to normal.”