Civilian trauma in Yemen – the psychological impact of drones

“The drones, it’s like sitting next to someone playing with a revolver. You’re afraid it may go off at any moment.”

This article by François-Xavier Trégan in the Guardian paints a distinct picture: that drone strikes, however “targeted”, create a long-lasting and widespread psychological damage. As I have argued elsewhere, military drones therefore need to be viewed as  “worldly” forces–existential weapons that target the totality of the shared lifeworld, not simply the “high value targets” that they may or may not eliminate.

“My pupils talk of nothing else. They ask me to explain this war going on next door,” says the schoolteacher Muhammad Musli. His 50 pupils, aged 13 to 15, turn up each morning with “puffy eyes and scared looks: they think the school may one day get hit”, he adds. They ask about “this weapon they cannot see, which attacks innocent people and all those who have had to leave their homes”. In an essay, Ali, 15, wrote about the “wild birds”. He is from Manasseh. “Before they were free,” Musli recalls, “they would play outdoors till nightfall. Now they go home before dusk.” Much as everyone else. At dusk the people of Obeiraq leave their fields. Even the streets are empty.

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