Published on Arab Voices

The unheard voices of exhausted Yemenis

From Cairo, where he and his family have landed following the evacuation of the World Bank Sana’a office, Ebrahim Mohammed Yahya Al-Harazi has reached out to Yemenis via social media for a ground level view of the impact to the current crisis.

Anton_Ivanov /“You don’t know what it’s like when you can’t feed your children for three days,” said Khaled Ali, a day laborer from the Yemeni city of Taiz. “I’ve lost my job, and I’ve sold my wife’s gold just to pay the rent. I am scared, what else should I expect in the coming days?” he continues. “Imagine! We’ve had to eat leaves from the trees to survive.” 

Humanitarian Crisis 
A steady deterioration in the political and security situation in Yemen has had a terrible effect on all aspects of the lives of Yemenis. Yemen’s cities have been without public electricity since early April, shortly after Yemeni rebels advanced on government forces and the bombing of targets in Yemen by the Saudi air force began.
As the violence escalates on the ground, the necessities of life evaporate. The cost of essential foods like wheat, eaten daily by Yemenis as bread, has quadrupled.  “It took me two weeks to secure just one sack of flour, I really felt lucky,” said Om Sultan, a housewife in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden. “But I had to share some of it with needy neighbors who could not afford the cost of it.”

According to the UN’s humanitarian coordination agency, OCHA, 21.1 million people need humanitarian assistance in Yemen, where the past three months’ of conflict has directly affected 12.2 million people. Some 20.4 million people need safe drinking water and better sanitation, while 15.2 million people require basic health care. Roughly half the country’s population—12.3 million people—are food insecure. The UN believes that as many as 52,000 women have suffered from sexual violence as a result of the conflict so far, and now need psychosocial support and medical care.
Increases in the cost of food and water are largely the result of the acute fuel shortage that has crippled the country since the conflict started. This has also left hospitals without enough diesel to function properly. Violence and the closure of health facilities have drastically increased the number of people in need of medical assistance—about 8.6 million need urgent medical care, according to the World Health Organization.
In all, about 80% of the Yemeni population, or more than 20 million people, require humanitarian assistance.
Fleeing War
About one million people in Yemen have been displaced from their homes by the fighting. More than 10,000 Yemenis, including children, have fled the country.
For years, Yemen has been a transit point for mostly Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees from the Horn of Africa, but this has been reversed: about 246,000 African refugees are trying to leave despite facing the prospect of military conscription and other forms of persecution back home. Thousands of Yemeni refugees are also trying to escape in the same direction to Somaliland, Somalia or Djibouti in unsafe boats.
“My house was destroyed during the war, and I took my family on an 18 hour journey,” said Abdulhafed Hassan, a Yemeni refugee in Djibouti. “We were squeezed in as a lot of people were on the same boat. It was uncertain if we would reach the shore safely.”
According to the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, if the conflict continues, as many as 100,000 more Yemenis may follow suit between now and the end of 2015.


Ebrahim Al-Harazi

Specialist in Communications and Development

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