Eid after three years of war in Yemen

Eid after three years of war in Yemen

Publication info

Hind Abbas

Eid is joy. It is the happiness and laughter of children and family gatherings. It is the smell of baked cookies in every Yemeni house. Eid Al-Adha, also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice," is one of our most important holidays in Yemen. This year, for the fourth time, the joy of Eid is overshadowed by war, human suffering and constant fear for loved ones. Three years of war have increased humanitarian need tremendously. 22 million Yemenis — nearly three in every four people — rely on humanitarian aid to survive. It's no surprise that people don't feel like celebrating. 

Salary cuts for people working in the public sector have had huge impacts on the economy and public services. Approximately 1.2 million civil servants are destitute and hungry, as well as their spouses, their children and their parents. Today, over 8 million people are on the brink of famine. People don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The rial's (Yemeni currency) value has plunged for months, which means prices for most commodities, especially food and clothing, have doubled. 

What do people in Yemen wish for as Eid approaches? They wish to celebrate amid peace and stability, not fear and hunger. They wish to sleep without worrying about the future. Here they share their wishes in their own words:

Lula, mother of three: “I have not been home for this holiday in years.”
“My family lives in Hadramoot in the North of Yemen. Last time I visited them was four years ago. Before the war I always visited my family during Eid together with my husband and children. This Eid is yet another holiday where I will not be able to visit them. Travelling is not safe anymore and it takes up to 30 hours to reach my home town. The tickets are so expensive now that we cannot afford it either. I have three children which makes it extremely difficult. I miss my family and I miss the spirit of Eid in my hometown. I miss the sea breeze and the company of my friends and family.” 

Mohamed, school teacher, father of three: “I feel like I have failed. I cannot even buy sweets for this holiday.” 
“Since the war started everything became harder year after year, the prices have risen and make it very difficult for me to buy clothes and Eid sweets to celebrate with my family. I don’t know what to tell my wife and children. I feel like I have failed to even provide the only joy we have that will make us forget the brutality of war.” 

Amal, 26 years old, mother of three: “We had to flee. I don’t know how we are going to celebrate.” 
“I remember when I was a child my mother used to take me to get Henna paintings on my hands for Eid. I would be very happy, sitting quietly although my heart was jumping from happiness. Then we returned home I usually took a shower and as soon as I finished I would find my new clothes nicely organized on the sofa. I used to dance from happiness and sleeping was the hardest thing to do. I grew up and I got married and I tried to give my three children the same feeling I used to feel. But after the war started everything changed dramatically, my husband only gets paid every two to three months and it’s never enough to cover our basic needs. But we managed to smile and enjoy until we had to flee from Hodeidah two months ago. This Eid I don’t know how we are going to celebrate. I am not with my extended family and not in my house.  I feel like we have been ripped from the last thing we had which is the joy of Eid.” 

This year, for the fourth time, the joy of Eid is overshadowed by war, human suffering and constant fear for loved ones. Credit: Holly Frew/CARE