Deadly crash kills 3 refugees
The crash occurred at 10 a.m. Monday while the children were sitting on slabs of concrete, Somali refugee and eyewitness to the accident Barqaqua Ibrahim said.
“They saw my son eating sunflower seeds; they sat down to join him,” Ibrahim said. “My son was able to move out of the way, but the others were killed. We’re not safe here.”
Their mother, Hawir, left the camp to get water and returned after the crash occurred. Yemeni police officers did not rush the victims to a hospital. Instead, the two brothers were taken to Al Thawra Hospital in a taxi. Abdullah was declared dead on arrival; his brother died a few hours later. All three bodies are being held in a refrigerated room at the hospital, Dr. Abdulkarim Al Kholeni of Al Thawra Hospital said.
“I’ve been ill ever since the accident,” Ibrahim said. “I can’t keep anything down; I vomit when I remember the blood and [Yusef’s] brain all over the concrete. It looked like his head had exploded. I held his head and tried to talk to him, but he was dead.”
The driver of the vehicle, Qa’ed Alwagedi, is currently at a detention center awaiting charges. He was speeding and turned a corner onto Al-Amri Street when his brakes failed, according to Sana’a Deputy of Traffic and Accidents Abdullah Ma’odah.
“He (Alwagedi) put his hands on his head and screamed, ‘Oh God, what did I do? Did I kill these people? People live in these tents?’” Ibrahim said. “He went a little crazy—he was crying.”
The children’s father, sobbing at the crash site five days later, declined to be interviewed.
“The father came in Aug. 26 and told us didn’t want charges filed; he just wanted his children’s bodies,” Ma’odah said. “Alwagedi is still being held.”
The accident highlights dangers faced by homeless refugees. They have been without housing since being removed from prison July 20 by Yemeni security forces. The refugees, including those killed Aug. 20, spent four months in prison after security forces ended their 11-month demonstration outside the U.N. Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Sana’a office. Refugees say their removal from outside UNHCR’s building and later from prison were violent.
The refugees fear for their safety. Attempted sexual assaults have occurred while sleeping, several women said. Despite the demonstrated safety concerns, it’s unclear whether UNHCR will offer housing or aid.
“UNHCR is saddened by the deaths and [is] closely following the issue with our implementing partners,” Zaid Al-Alaya’a, Senior Public Information Assistant at UNHCR, said.