Another year of fear, and a mysterious future in Yemen

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Children in Yemen standing outside the house
Photo: Abdulhakim Al Ansi/CARE

Today, people around the world are celebrating the beginning of a new year, a new chapter in their lives. They are thinking of what they are going to achieve and accomplish and how they are going to spend their year. On the other side of the world—being completely forgotten—are the people of Yemen. It’s a new year they want to be optimistic but can’t help feeling worried. For them it is another year of living in fear, hunger and a dark unknown future.

Five years ago, Yemen was considered one of the poorest countries in the Middle East and today it is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Today 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The war started in 2015 and since then it has been worsening day after day. People are living in constant fear. It is very frustrating for them not being able to think of the future and how to improve their lives and themselves. Rather, all they think about and constantly worry about is how to provide basic needs of food, electricity and water.

The conflict on the ground is still escalating day after day and the airstrikes are intensifying, and to be awakened at night on the sound of airstrikes or ground fighting is terrifying. Almost three years of war the people of Yemen have been living in a constant fear. They don’t know when an airstrike is going to hit or where it is going to hit. They go out of their houses not sure if this road is safer or the other road is going to be safer. Sudden clashes in the street could happen anytime and anywhere. They have learned to live and cope with this situation but the question here is:is it normal to learn to live and cope with this situation?

The spread of violence (whether it is an airstrike or ground fighting) by all parties isn’t the only crisis the Yemeni people are facing. There are multiple crises: the closure of ports have caused a severe damage in the already dire economic situation in the country; 60% of the prices of food, fuel and medicine have raised insanely; people are not able to cope with the situation specially that since September 2016 there’s an inconsistent payment of salaries. People are living in debt. Today in Yemen over 8 million people are on the brink of famine. People barely have one meal a day and it might be only bread and milk. Others go to sleep hungry.

A girl who is a cholera victim
A girl suffering from cholera in Amran, Yemen. Photo: Abdulhakim Ansi

Disturbing facts are seen and lived: the cholera outbreak is now considered the biggest in history, nearly one million Yemenis are affected, around 2000 died from a completely preventable causes due to the absence of safe water and sanitation. This is considered a deprivation of the right to life. Yemen already was one of the lowest rated countries in term of maternity deaths among women, before the escalation of the conflict out of 100,000 birth giving, 360 women would die, now this number has insanely increased to 1000 women die out of 52,000 giving birth. This is one indicator of the fragility of the health system throughout the country. It is literally collapsing which leave millions facing death with empty hands with no means of travel, no facilities, no money. Yemenis are trapped in a big prison and denied any kind of assistance to make choices. One of the biggest fears for the people of Yemen is getting sick. They don’t want to be helpless to medical treatment when they perfectly know that no one in Yemen has access to good medication, it is all about getting the basics. Basics do not secure human dignity and full right

Today, the people of Yemen are showing an amazing level of resilience, having built a coping mechanisms during this crisis for almost three years, but now they are physically consumed and emotionally drained: hiding in corners during airstrikes or ground shelling, waiting in long lines for water and cooking gas, moving from tent to another in internally displaced person’s camps. We, as young people, lose faith around us, all doors are strictly closed. It is almost impossible to travel because of the cost and movement restrictions. There are no opportunities for fixed jobs or daily allowances labour, people feel that death is the only way for them and to them; easy, fast and around! This is not a normal situation for human beings to live but it is being normalised, no other options available.

Being a woman in such crisis means one thing: more personal and social responsibilities, less safety and many movement restrictions. Many women are becoming breadwinners these days, not because they choose this but more because it’s the only way for families to survive when male breadwinners are either in the battlefield, jobless, or wounded. Women find themselves in a spot where they are required to act, yet they have no skills or means to start with... For three years now, Yemenis are dependent on humanitarian assistance. This cannot continue because it is hurting more than helping.

Yemen is a man-made crisis endured by millions on a daily basis. The world is silently watching a whole nation shattering into pieces. Media coverage on the international level is disappointing. The war in Yemen is like a bunch of mosquitoes: small temporary attention every now and then, never was consistent or profound. A forgotten war as many describe it. Not enough international solidarity nor awareness raising on crisis impact. The lack of sufficient interest and attention to the Yemeni crisis by International community prolongs the conflict with no enough pressure imposed on warring parties.

The people of Yemen are suffocated by the situation. They desperately want peace,almost three years are more than enough and as the new year 2018 arrives they wish they could sleep without worrying about the mysterious and dark future. They want to live a life of humans where normality and stability takes place rather than fear, hunger and dark future.

Author information

Hana Alshowafi is Project officer for women peace and security project, mainly focusing on Women and Youth.

Hind Abbas is Communications Assistant in CARE International Yemen, working closely with most affected people from the field.

Abdulhakim Najm is Communications Assistant in CARE International Yemen, working closely with most affected people from the field.

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