“I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey,” a 13-year-old Pakistani boy named Zubair told Congress on Tuesday. Zubair was 12 when he and his younger sister, Nabeela, were injured in a drone strike near North Waziristan last October. “When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear,” Zubair told Rep. Alan Grayson and others at the congressional briefing.
Think about that for a second — because of drones, a little kid is scared of one of the most harmless things in the world and the universal indicator that the day is going to be a good one. Being afraid of a blue sky is the inevitable trauma that comes with the recovery process Zubair and his sister are going through — the two were injured when a drone attack hit their home, and blew their grandmother to bits while she was working in the garden.
“A piece of shrapnel ripped into the boy’s left leg, just above his kneecap. A scar approximately four inches in length remains,” The Guardian reports. “I had seen my grandmother right before it had happened but I couldn’t see her after. It was just really dark but I could hear [a] scream when it had hit her,” Nabeela told The Guardian.
Zubair and his family represent the civilian toll of these drones. In the nine years spanning between 2004 and 2013, drone strikes killed an estimated 2,525 to 3,613 people, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported. Between 407 to 926 of those are civilians, the bureau believes, and Zubair’s grandmother is one of them. The Obama administration has disputed those numbers.
Zubair and his family spoke at the briefing today that marks the first time members of Congress will hear from victims from drone strikes. The briefing was set up by Grayson, one of the most left-leaning members of Congress. It began at 10 a.m. on Tuesday and is still proceeding.