Students in a small school in Yemen’s Saada province have returned to class in the absence of their friends who were killed in an air strike on a bus in August.
Ahmad Ali Hanash, 14, struggled to hold back tears as he recalled the friends he lost in the attack by a Saudi-led military alliance on a market in Saada in northern Yemen.
“Their blood will not be in vain, we will avenge them by getting an education, we will avenge them by learning,” Hanash, who was on the bus, told Reuters. “I thank God for surviving the attack, the ugly crime.”
As the survivors resumed their lives, joining morning exercise drills in the sand yard of the two-storey Al Falah primary school, or attending classes in wheelchairs alongside peers seated at wooden desks, other students said they feared more attacks in the war-torn country.
We are sad after we lost our dearest schoolmates, and we are worried that the enemy will strike the school
said 15-year-old Sadiq Amin Jaafar. “But we will continue our education.”
Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition of Arab states fighting against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that controls north Yemen, said last month that the coalition accepted that the attack had killed dozens of people, including children on the bus, and that it was unjustified.
The kingdom and its ally the United Arab Emirates receive Western political support and buy billions of dollars a year in arms from the United States and European powers including Britain and France.
The alliance has launched thousands of air strikes in a campaign to restore the internationally recognised government, killing hundreds of civilians at hospitals, schools, markets and weddings.
The alliance says it does not intentionally target civilians. The Houthis have also been criticised by rights groups.
Nearly half a million children in Yemen have dropped out of school since 2015, bringing the total number of out-of-school children to two million, according to a UNICEF report in March.