Prolonged war leaves irreparable scars in Yemeni children’s mind-Xinhua

Children are seen at a rehabilitation center in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 7, 2022. (Photo by Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua)

SANAA, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) — The protracted war in Yemen not only brings physical suffering to millions of children, but also inflicts a kind of pain that lasts longer – psychological trauma.

“Many children showed aphasia or other symptoms of PTSD after surviving heavy bombing. They were overcome with horror and fear,” said Suad Al-Haimi, the director of the Al-Tahadi Association for the Disabled in the capital, Sana’a.

Dozens of children played in the rehabilitation center. Many of them used sign language, while others were very shy and always tried to avoid eye contact. There are also many children who suffer from dyslexia or even intellectual disabilities as a result of various traumas during the war.

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Haimi said she expanded the infirmaries to accommodate more children because the longer the war lasted, the more children came for help.

“Compared to before the war, the center now has many more patients. Every day, a dozen children who are victims of the conflict come to seek help,” the Yemeni said.

It would take a lot of work from the center’s health workers and the children’s families to help the children recover from their psychological trauma if possible, said Haimi, who stressed that injuries to the heart are the hardest to heal.

The UN said four out of five Yemeni children are in need of humanitarian assistance. For more than eight years, a whole new generation has been growing up in Yemen under the clouds of a cruel civil war that has brought hunger, poverty and uncontrolled disease to every corner of the Arab country.

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Yemen has been mired in civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi militia seized control of several northern provinces and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government out of the capital, Sanaa.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced 4 million and brought the country to the brink of starvation.

“The mental health situation of youth in Yemen is worrying,” Haimi said, adding that what she and her rehabilitation center have done is just a drop in the ocean as there are millions of children dealing with the stress of the world war had to be finished.

The Al-Tahadi Center is one of the few specialty rehabilitation centers still operating, as the healthcare system collapsed long ago in the war-ravaged country.

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But its existence is now in jeopardy because raising funds is more difficult than ever. Despite the ongoing ceasefire between the Houthi group and the internationally recognized government, Yemenis are still grappling with rising prices and shortages of food and fuel.

“Not many people take care of their children’s mental health when they are struggling to put bread on the table. But the wound in the head can be as painful as any,” Haimi said.

Children play in the yard of a rehabilitation center in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 7, 2022. (Photo by Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua)

Children play in the yard of a rehabilitation center in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 7, 2022. (Photo by Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua)

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