Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Citizenship

Why Silhouettes of Children Are Appearing All Over London

Eagle-eyed Londoners might have spotted silhouettes of small children cropping up at iconic landmarks in the capital this week. 

The mysterious images show a small child, wearing a rucksack, and staring up at the sky. 

The hashtag #DontBombChildren that appears underneath the silhouette is the only clue about the heartbreaking reason for the posters. 

Take action: All Children Around the World Deserve to Go to School

It’s all part of a campaign by Save the Children to mark the arrival of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince in the UK, in protest agains the bombing of children in Yemen. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman landed in London on Wednesday for the start of a three-day official visit that includes Buckingham Palace and Downing Street. 

But Save  said it launched the campaign as “a reminder of the dangers that Yemeni children face every day and the risks of British-made bombs fuelling the violence."

As well as the silhouettes, a life-size statue of a Yemeni child has also been unveiled outside parliament — after it was photographed at Tower Bridge, Camden Market, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital.

Read more: The World's Most Repressive Regimes Are Getting Billions of Dollars of Weapons From the UK

Those locations were chosen as symbolic of the playgrounds, hospitals, schools, and markets where children are being killed and injured in Yemen. 

More than 10,000 people, including 1,600 children, have died as a direct result of the war waged by Saudi Arabia on Yemen — which is now entering its fourth year — according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). 

In this year’s annual Children and Armed Conflict report, the UN named the Saudi-led coalition for committing grave violations against children, an area which Global Citizen campaigned on. 

The situation in Yemen has become so severe that the UN last year described it as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. According to a report released in January, 17 million people are facing acute food insecurity.

Read more: 8 Countries Are Now Battling 'Crisis Level' Hunger

“We are extremely clear what we’re asking for,” said James Denselow, head of conflict and humanitarian policy, at Save the Children. 

“We want Saudi Arabia to obey the rules of war, to stop killing civilians in Yemen, and to abandon a failed military strategy in favour of working towards a political solution,” he said. 

Embed from Getty Images

“Britain is providing welcome and life-saving aid to Yemen — but it also provides diplomatic cover,” he continued. “It is time for the government to use this diplomatic relationship to push for an end to the conflict — and to demand our allies stop bombing children.” 

Denselow said that everyone involved in the conflict — including the Saudi-led coalition, the Houthis, the Yemen government, and everyone involve in the fighting “must come to the table and start to work for a negotiated peace.” 

Read more: Millions Face Starvation, Dehydration, and Disease in Yemen as Supplies Are Blocked at the Border

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said  in a statement that May will “raise deep concerns at the humanitarian situation” in Yemen with bin Salman. 

As part of his visit, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, as well as being hosted by Prince Charles at a dinner. He is also jointly hosting with Theresa May the inaugural UK-Saudi strategic partnership council in No.10.

Bin Salman will then be visiting Cairo and New York, in his first foreign tour as heir to the Saudi throne. 

Read more: Yemen's Cholera Outbreak Hits 1 Million Cases

The Crown Prince has been hailed as a progressive, youthful heir, following recent steps towards gender equality in the country — including allowing Saudi women to drive cars , as well as going to the cinema and attending sporting events .

May said  in the statement after bin Salman's visit to Downing Street that the UK would support efforts to “intensify these reforms, particularly on women’s rights, and on universal human rights.” 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, which include action on achieving peace. You can join us by taking action here