Yemen In Conflict: Exploring Painful Memories In A Country Devastated By War

National Yemen

Ersal’s newly born baby (Photographer: Rabab Ayash)

Sincere.Global in conjunction with National Yemen newspaper based in Yemen will produce  series of articles  and reports with more focused on women and children suffer on Yemen’s recent war-torn led by Saudi Arabia and Arab coalition.

By Rabab Ayesh, NYN Correspondent

During the ceaseless cycle of violence in Yemen, it is the vulnerable who suffer the most, especially women and children. It is hard to tell with any certainty exactly how many women are suffering various forms of hardships in Yemen. Assessments, done by local and international organizations, identify women and children as among the most vulnerable.

While the Yemen government receives a huge amount of military aid from the Saudi-led coalition, it is a country where food programs are being cut because of lack of funding; a country where one in three people are chronically hungry. Many reports and assessments about Yemen show only part of the unfolding scope of the tragedy. Unlike people in the other parts of the world, people in Yemen try to hide their sufferings. It is only when you walk on the streets you see extent of their sufferings.

Yemen is a very conservative society governed by tribal traditions. A society where women are almost invisible and have no say in what goes on in their country. It is difficult to talk to a strange woman in the public places in Sana’a even for female journalists and it is more difficult if not impossible to take photos of them.

The security situation in Yemen is another obstacle that makes it difficult for interested groups to reach out to all the civilians who were affected by the war. The political crisis overshadows the needs of millions of Yemenis. It is believed that without sustained commitment to help the innocent civilians, Yemen will continue to face tragedy while their stories continue to be lost amid the complexities of political war and national security which is the focus of most of the media.

Only a handful of stories have been highlighted by the media. These stories reflect the magnitude of the destruction and tragedy inflicted on the Yemeni people, while the majority are being buried under roofs and in the streets of this war-torn country. Stories of suffering in Yemen do not need the hands of a talented writer to be impact the reader. The stories alone are complete tragedies.

On the 17th of August 2015, Ersal Albadani, a 21 year old woman, died soon after giving birth to her first child as a result of the lack of medicine. Ersal was diagnosed with toxaemia “poison” during the last four months of her pregnancy. She tried her best to not show her husband the pain she felt. It wasn’t until she fainted and was rushed to the hospital. Her husband is a motorcycle driver. He spends on his family from the little amount of money he earns from his motorcycle. It becomes hard to work these days as a result of the oil deprivation crisis.

Unfortunately, medicine for Ersal’s illness was not available and Ersal, like many others, did not have the chance to travel abroad to receive medicine. Death did not wait long to take Ersal’s life.

In Yemen, this is not one of the most painful stories to read. It is only one of a very long list of similar stories.

As conflict escalates here and with the absence of civilian protection, people’s lives turn to be hell-like.

Another story that has not seen the light is the story of a big family from Ibb who were forced to leave their home in Sana’a in a single night forcible decision. When leaflets where anonymously distributed to residents of Hazeiz neighborhood at the south of Sana’a calling the citizens to evacuate the neighborhood in a period of 8 hours, as it was said it will be targeted for air strikes by the Saudi-led.

On the 17th of May 2015, 19 women and 27 children were forced to leave Sana’a to Ibb after they received a warning which commanded them to leave the place cause it was said to be targeted by the Saudi-led coalition air strikes in Yemen.

“That night was the worst night in my life. Everyone in the house was crying and children were screaming. The scene is hard to described. For a moment, I thought it to be the day of judgment. I looked out at the scene around me and started asking the questions that naturally comes up at such point which are usually full with total despair, What shall we do? Where to go? Is this the last night?”, said Fatima a 17 year old girl and a member of Taher family, with tears filling her eyes.

The men of the family hurried to the streets to look for cars to drive them to the village before the area would be bombarded.

It took them hours till they found a bus because of the crisis of oil deprivation in the country. It was hard moments for the Taher family. Where to go is the question that all ask.

The family’s women and children left the place at 1:30 am while the men decided to stay in Sana’a. Until here the story of Taher family has not started yet. On their way to the village, the bus broke down. The women did not know what to do. They stayed for four hours waiting for someone to drive them to the village. They asked many for help. All their tries went in vain for nobody in the village had petrol to fill a car and come to drive them. Then they were left with no solution other than walking by foot to the village, which was still miles away, carrying all the heavy luggage and the young children.

That is a single family story and we may find more painful stories if we just look around us. The war in Yemen forced millions of women and children to leave their houses in the areas of conflict and walk to the uncertainty of the refugees’ shelters in a complete silence, far away from the sight of any humanitarian organizations.

After escaping death in the areas of conflict, many vulnerable families start to struggle with new phase of the battle. They struggle to cover their basic needs; food, clean water and many other lifesaving necessities. They face the war’s grave consequences which govern every aspect of their life. Sadly, many sufferings of the people do not make their way to the world’s headlines. Many people are buried along with their stories of sufferings with nobody to hear or to cry their loss. There are new incidents every day which insist to remind us of just how tough and painful peoples’ life in Yemen is.

One sentence that hurts me so much while working on this report is a sentence of Ersal’s mother saying, “I am happy that my daughter story will be known to all.” She told me the story of how her brother’s family whom were killed in a Saudi-led airstrike on Faj Attan area in Sana’a three months ago. To my surprise, I discovered that Yemen becomes an endless chain of painful stories. And death is no longer a strange guest that steals our love ones’ lives; rather it becomes a close friend that visits many Yemenis houses. One point that we can take for granted in Yemen is that, it is impossible for a single report to give a clear picture of the scope of the humanitarian disasters affiliating Yemeni people as a result of the seemingly everlasting war.