A group of people who have lost loved ones to US drone strikes in Yemen will next week (Tuesday April 1) launch a national organisation with the aim of supporting affected communities and highlighting the civilian impact of the covert programme.
The National Organization for Drone Victims (NODV), which is the first of its kind in Yemen, was founded by Mohammad al-Qawli, an Advisor to the Ministry of Education. Mr al-Qawli lost his brother, an elementary school-teacher, in a January 2013 drone strike in Khawlan, a district near the country’s capital Sanaa.
The launch will bring together a number of families who have lost relatives or friends to drone attacks, including: victims of the December 2013 strike which hit a wedding party in Radaa; and Faisal Ali Bin Jaber (pictured right), whose brother-in-law, an imam who preached against Al-Qaeda, and nephew were killed in an August 2012 strike.
According to Mr Al-Qawli the organisation will seek to investigate and publish facts about drone strikes and their effects on communities with the aim of changing government policy regarding the secretive US programme. While the Yemeni parliament has passed a resolution criminalising drone strikes, they continue with the approval of the Yemeni administration. The past year has seen a surge, with as many as eleven taking place in the first few months of 2014 alone.
The organisation will also seek to assist affected communities with the after-effects of drone strikes including: the economic impact of the loss of families’ primary bread-winners; psychological trauma—particularly in children; and physical injuries.
NODV founder and president Mohammad Al-Qawli said: “I founded the NODV in memory of my brother Ali because it was clear that the voices of victims of the US drone programme in Yemen need to be heard and the affected communities need support. There is so much misinformation spread about these attacks and almost no notice paid to the lasting, devastating affect they have on communities throughout Yemen. These attacks are making us all less safe: not only are innocents killed, but drone strikes create instability and radicalisation. By bringing victims together we have the chance to uncover facts regarding the strikes and their consequences and work together towards ending the illegal use of drones in Yemen and preventing further bloodshed.”
Notes to editors
This press release was issued by Reprieve on March 28, 2014.