Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


‘What did they do to deserve this?’: Mother’s heartbreak at three children killed in besieged Yemen city

Two pickup trucks carrying half a dozen heavily-armed men are onboard to accompany us on our journey into Taiz.

They are there for us all three days that we are in the city. Although there is talk of possible peace in Yemen, the war in Taiz has not stopped.

The city is divided with the Houthi militia ruling one side and government troops controlling the other.

Between Aden, the port city, and Yemen’s third largest city, we have to pass through almost 30 armed checkpoints. The distance is 200km (125 mi). In the days before war, it took about two hours to travel the distance.

Image Alex Crawford, R) in Taiz (Yemen).

Most roads are now blocked by insecurity, fighting or territorial gains.

Only dusty and rocky roads lead to the city, which winds along treacherous mountainside.

The journey involves crossing territories held by both government troops and separatist groups fighting for independence.

Learn more about Yemen

There are still small pockets of Islamic extremists but they’ve been largely neutered in this grinding conflict which has evolved into a regional proxy war, fuelled by Saudi Arabia supporting the internationally-recognised government and Iran which has been backing and arming the Houthi militia.

The journey takes six hours, and traders complain about having to pay fines at multiple checkpoints while transporting essential supplies into Taiz. This has made the journey dangerous and costly.

The Houthi militia imposed a siege on the city, resulting in slow and painful torture of civilians who remained.

They are in desperate need of food, water, and a means to survive. Many families are found camping in bombed, abandoned buildings close to the frontline that divide the opposing groups.

Mohammed, a father tells us that he had three children during the siege and lived in the basement of an ex-mall.

He says, “Ofcourse, I worry about them safety.” It’s not safe here. However, I keep them in the house as much as possible and warn them to stay inside when they hear the shelling and explosions.

Image Mohammed was the father of three children during the siege
Image Mohammed worries about his children’s safety

Many homes contain rockets and shells that have been embedded in the buildings, but not yet detonated.

All of them tell us about their fear of Houthi-snipers, who set up high-rise buildings to pick off civilians, including children and pensioners.

“I will never leave home”

Qabool Ahmed Ali (about 70 years old) is found in a hospital with an injury from a sniper bullet in her back. She had received the bullet in her arm.

She tells us about her home near the frontline, “I refuse being pushed out of mine home.” “The Houthis kept screaming to me, “Why are you still here crazy woman?” But I will never leave my house.”

Image Qabool Ahmad Ali, 70, was taken in the back

To block snipers’ sight as they move between homes, some of them still have blankets and sheets placed between their houses. To stop cars from moving or attracting gunfire, they have piled sand on streets.

Taiz is a dangerous place with high stakes. With the enemy only a few hundred meters away, there has been constant, if not sporadic, engagement between the sides despite nationwide agreements truces and a lull of fighting for the better part of a calendar year.

Fighters are seen riding on motorbikes, their weapons carried over their shoulders.

Khalid Ali, 23, tells us that he wants peace. “It’s them [the Houthis] that don’t. They kill innocent people, including children. We keep our weapons for defense.”

There are many tragic stories of families and children being hit by random shells, fired randomly and without warning.

Children are killed playing outside

Fatima, a mother to nine children, is overcome with grief when she shows us photographs of the horrific events that took place to her four children on the day of the shelling. Images of her children, dead and badly mutilated are all that she has left.

Image Fatima grieves for the loss of four of her children, who were killed in the shelling

These are shocking photos that show how their young bodies were torn apart by the blast. They were all playing outside together when they were struck. Leila, the eldest of them all, was about 12. Her brothers Hameed (10 years old) and Mahmoud (7 years old) were the youngest.

Hamid, three-year-old, survived. However his left leg was amputated. He continues to receive treatment in Jordan with his father. Malak, Malak’s two-year-old sister, grabs the photos as her mother talks to us. She beckons her to say “Mahmoud!” It’s Mahmoud”.

Image Fatima left graphic photos of her dead, mutilated and mistreated children
Image Malak eats bread every day since the day before

Her mother responds with sobs. “Mahmoud will not be coming back habibbi [my affection].” She says, “He’s gone now.”

Fatima has created a file to record what happened to her children. She is seeking justice.

“I want the person who did this to be held responsible for the harm they caused to my children. They were children, children. They did nothing to deserve this.

Alex Crawford reports live from Taiz, Yemen with Sky Middle East editor Zein ja’far, cameraman Jake Britton, and producer Ahmed Baider.


Latest Tweets

London Globe

Calls for EU to investigate Russian payments to Maltese dentist.… #news #


You May Also Like


The controversial Russian businessman Viktor Baturin, well-known for his years-long counterstanding with his wealthy sister Elena, widow of Moscow ex-mayor Yuri Luzhkov, is likely...

United Kingdom

Film director Ridley Scott has recalled the death of actor Oliver Reed while making the Oscar winning blockbuster Gladiator. Scott said hard-drinking Reed “just...

United Kingdom

The Watneys Party Seven is making a comeback. The ubiquitous 70s beer was a bland fizzing bitter ridiculed by many. The drink’s insipidness helped...

European Union

On April 9, 2022 Dimash Qudaibergen’s first solo concert in Germany took place in Düsseldorf. The colossal energy and the atmosphere of unity did...