SANAA, Yemen — After a Saudi airstrike hit a residential apartment building in Sanaa in August 2017, 5-year old Buthaina Muhammad Mansour al-Raimi quickly became the public face of the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Yemen.
While at the hospital, pictures of her struggling to open her right eye, which was swollen shut from her injuries, went viral as social media users posted their own pictures imitating Buthaina. CNN covered her story, as did news outlets around the world.
The International Committee of the Red Cross condemned last year’s Aug. 25 attack that killed 16 people and injured 21 more as “outrageous,” and Saudi Arabia blamed the deadly strike, which killed Buthaina’s mother and father, all five of her siblings and an uncle, on a “technical mistake.”
While Buthaina’s case never attracted as much international coverage as that of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey, her image brought attention to the thousands of civilians who have died in the war. Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition involved in the Yemen conflict, says its goal is to dislodge the Houthi rebels who control large swaths of the country.
By Regina Freitas