Displacement In Yemen Is An Area Rich With Heartbreaking Stories

National Yemen
Children struggle to pull heavey water cans
Written by Fakhri Al-Arashi

By Rabab Ayash – Correspondent/NYN (Sana’a)

The civil war and collapsed economy are two struggles that face the poorest country in the Arab World – Yemen (editor’s note: World Bank statistic for pre-conflict [2013] annual per capita income: $1473 USD in contrast to Qatar [richest] at $92632 USD).

The displaced fled the “quick death” by missiles and air raids to find themselves in a countryside that promises them with a “slow death”. They look for the basic lifesaving materials in the absence of the role once provided by concerned officials, as well as neglect and absence of the international and local humanitarian community organizations.

Violence has destroyed many peoples’ lives. The plight of civilians continues to worsen with the diminished hope of an agreement on a ceasefire in the country.

The suffering of hundreds of displaced Yemeni families, who were displaced from their homes in town of Al Baydha, as the conflict in the country escalates further, was increased at areas of shelters due to the many challenges. With the absence of international and local humanitarian groups as a result of the threat of the security crisis, many forcibly displaced families suffer securing water, bread and other food.

Many families are demanding the concerned of authorities to rescue them from hunger. The demands came due to the cruel living situation that they live in such as the high prices, the lack access of financial income for most of those families who were forced to leave their houses (editor’s note: according to the UN World Food Programme datasheet for Yemen: ‘Yemen Emergency – In Yemen, millions of people. Yemen is on the brink of famine.’).

Displaced families at Sana’a have had to evacuate their homes. Some of their homes got bombed while they were inside their home and they survived by some miracle, while others lost their houses after evacuating them.

Salim Mohammed family from Al Byadha has been displaced from their house for three months. “Three months ago, I had to leave my house at Al Byadha as a result of the threat of having my house being bombed by the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes or the Houthi shelling. My family was scared when we witnessed the death of our neighbor family in Al Byadhani who were all killed by one artillery shell that burst in their house.” It was hard moments for Salim’s family.

“It was my first time to see real blood”, said, Ali Salim an eight year old child. “We were playing in the afternoon and now they all are bodies without souls.” Ali adds.

After they left Al Byadha, they were not able to make a decision. Where to go? Until a friend advised them to go to the capital Sana’a where they can find good shelter, food and other lifesaving things. Salim took his friend’s advice and took a car and went to Sana’a.

Salim said, “It was the city of ghosts. Nobody could make an offer of help. We slept in an empty yard. It is a parking lot of a car sale center. The owner of that empty yard permits us to stay in a small mobile house inside the huge yard.” Finding a place to stay in was the best thing that happened to Salim and his family since they left their house in Al Byadha governorate.

“We lost our house during the war and we evacuated to Sana’a. We thought that we are safe. It was after three days of staying in Sana’a, we heard bombing in the city. We are close to Nahdain mountain in Sana’a and the explosions were very strong. We were shocked. Where should we go now? We have no other safe place”, says Arwa Al Awadhi, Salim’s wife, in a desperate voice. “My children screamed as if it were their first time to hear explosions”, added Arwa.

Though Salim found a shelter for his family, many challenges have arisen, such as water and food shortage and the lack of cooking gas. They try to find solutions to these problems.

The family depends mainly on the liters of water their children fetch in cans on their heads from a very far away water pump. They could not offer to buy cooking gas. Therefore, they use wood instead. “We will not give up. We should continue”, said Arwa.

During the ceaseless cycle of violence in Yemen, it is the vulnerable who suffer the most, especially young children.

“My youngest child talks in his sleep and sometimes screams in pain during the silent dark nights. He always has nightmares about his friends who were killed innocently by a chance shell”, explained Arwa, with tears.

Painful memories, unknown psychological sufferings, and inhuman traumatic hardships along with hunger and sickness are some challenges that face most displaced families.

All these sufferings are brought about by the unending and fast spreading battles in the country.

Forcibly displaced families want to talk about the pain they are enduring more than their needs for food. They need to tell their pains for all to hear. Shelters are a rich place of heartbreaking stories. The greatest needs among the forcibly displaced are for clean drinkable water.

“Days here are extremely long. We miss many things in our homeland. We miss our neighbors, the playing yard, even the dishes my mother used to cook when we were in Al Baydha”, said, Majed Salim, a 10 year old boy.

Displaced people conditions are increasingly deteriorating. Since the beginning of the war, displaced people find themselves at a loss. And they wait eagerly for the final whistle, which is likely would put an end to their unprecedented sufferings.

“I wish I could go back to my house and play again with my old friends. I wish I could see the water goes out of a water tapes. I want to see my mother cooking on the cooker. Carrying water was interesting at the beginning but now it turns to be one of the worst things in this world”, said Majid.

“We did not get any support or aid from any organization, we live on the simple aid we receive from the good people and donations of expatriates.” replied Salim when we asked him about the aid they receive.

Displaced life is a real hardship. They had to leave their houses with nothing other than the clothes they wear. Displacement generates many tragedies with every family fled with a tragic story or issue to tell.

Arwa added, “I am very disappointed for what we reach to. I used to have a good life and we were happy. It is really shocking to find everything destroyed in a blink of an eye. It kills me when I watch my children carrying those heavy containers of water on their head. It hurts me to see my children cooking on the air.

You know, our story is not the most heartbreaking. We know many affluent families who own big houses and cars and suddenly they were forced to look for shelters. We know nothing about what has happened to them.”

“I hope that the issue of displacement comes to an end and we have the chance to go back to our neighborhoods and homes. I would prefer to live in my destroyed house among the people we love than living in isolation from the world here”, Arwa concluded her speech.

While the focus of the world’s eyes are on the political crisis in Yemen, the picture on the ground is extremely bleak. Many concerned authorities stress that unless rapidly resolved, the crisis could lead to mass displacement in the wake of heavy and ongoing fighting and airstrikes.

This report was first published by 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.