Eight-year-old Sulah Yonis in Benghazi Hospital. When asked if he will survive the doctor said: "He might".
Abandoned Explosive Ordnance left behind by those involved in the conflict poses a huge threat to civilians in Libya. Those most at risk are often children.
In a tragic accident in Ajdabiya on Saturday 4 June, three-year-old Shada Yonis brought a hand grenade into the living room as her family and some children from next door were watching television.
She pulled out the arming pin. Her father, Yonis Sala, grabbed it and tried to save his children shielding the grenade with his body. But he couldn’t save them. The power of the blast killed him and Shada instantly, along with five-year-old Shema.
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Three other children and Shada's mother were seriously injured in the explosion, including Shada’s eight-year-old brother Sulah – seen in the photograph above.
MAG’s Marketing and Communications Manager Sean Sutton, who is in Libya recording the work of our teams and the humanitarian impact of these devastating remnants of conflict, met Sulah and his mother in Benghazi Hospital earlier this week.
“The doctors looking after Sulah told me his internal injuries are extremely serious and he will have to undergo a series of operations," Sean said. "When asked I asked them if he will survive, his doctor said: ‘He might’."
“It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when you hear a story like this, and see a little boy so badly injured, all because of a child’s curiosity and an adults' war that means these weapons are all too easily available.
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"I’ve seen it too many times and it never gets any easier. I just hope MAG can increase our presence here, with more support, to get rid of as many of these weapons and prevent this happening again as much as we can,” he added.
Sulah's uncle Majde Ibraham, pictured with him, said: "This is such a tragedy. Two families have been devastated. Children don't know any better and I hope this horrible incident will be a lesson to others. I am glad MAG is here to clear these bombs and things. It has been so terrible."
In the photograph of accident scene below, the shape of Yonis where he took the shrapnel is visible. Survivors said that forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi had occupied the house and used it to store ammunition. The family thought they had cleared all of the remaining munitions.
MAG is working to reduce the threat of death and injury and has demolished more than 900 dangerous items in the country since April.
If you'd like to help MAG's work in Libya and throughout the world please Donate here.
The shape of Sulah's father, who shielded the blast, can been seen from the shrapnel marks on the living room wall.
Unloading a BM-21 Grad rocket launcher in Ajdabiya. The launcher had been hit in a NATO airstike and still contained 15 fused 122mm rockets.
[Photos: Sean Sutton/MAG]
14 June 2011
Hundreds of unexploded devices destroyed in Ajdabiya (9 June 2011)
Our thanks to the following donors to MAG's Libya operations: Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State; UK Department for International Development (DFID) / UKaid.