Working for peace in Yemen in 2018

Working for peace in Yemen in 2018

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By Abdulhakim Al-Ansi, CARE Yemen

CARE Yemen Communications Assistant Abdulhakim Al-Ansi recounts his experience returning to Yemen since war broke out in his country and his hopes for the future.

2017 was not a good year for Yemen. For me, it was the year I returned to my home country. In January, after having worked and studied abroad for four years I arrived at Aden Airport. Of course, I knew that there is a war in my country for almost three years, but, I was still completely shocked by what I saw. The building of the airport was destroyed. Tanks were roaming around the airstrip.

On the way back to Sana’a, I was horrified by the damaged buildings, hotels, houses, schools and roads. It was the first time for me to travel from Aden to Sana’a and not be able to go through my home city Taiz. For almost three years the city where I was born and lived my best days, has experienced unmerciful conflict.

But everything I saw on this 12-hour journey was nothing compared to what I had experienced and heard since I joined CARE International. I came back to help my people, and I am seeing the miserable impact this war has had on each and every Yemeni. The ugly truth is that we rarely watch or read about this in the media.

For months, my new colleague Hind and myself did everything we could to make the voices of people in Yemen louder and draw the world’s attention towards this huge humanitarian crisis in a country, which, even before the war, was the poorest country in the Middle East.

In January 2017, the situation in Yemen was already critical. Around 18 million Yemeni were in need of humanitarian assistance — more than half of the entire the population. Huge numbers of people did not have access to safe and clean water. Garbage was covering the streets and villages.

All employees in the public sector had not received their salaries for several months. At the end of April, cholera broke out and started to spread quickly. Twenty-two out of 23 governorates were affected. Around 5,000-6,000 new case were being reported on a daily basis.

I remember moving around with my camera in the hospitals, where patients were laying down on the corridors. Old and young men, women, boys and girls. They were so weak, they could not even say a word. I felt so bad for those patients. But I also felt angry about this war, that those poor people had to experience such incredible pain.

Eman was the first cholera case I met. She was unable to open her eyes, her grandma was sitting next to her, crying, tears running down her face. She was asking the doctor whether her little girl would live.

Adam (pictured below) was brought to the hospital very late. His parents kept him at home for more than 24 hours trying to cure him using home remedies., The child was unconscious, waiting for the overwhelmed doctors to save his life. My heart was bleeding that I could do nothing for him, apart from sharing his story with the world.

Bushra, a displaced girl, was with her family looking for a way to survive the war. Although she did not speak, her eyes seemed to send millions of questions to all conflict parties and to the whole world asking, “Isn’t that enough!!!”

Karima helplessly had to watch her son die in front of her eyes as she did not have the money to take him to the hospital. She could not even feed him with a piece of bread. Within six hours of severe diarrhea he passed away in the one room they call home.

This war has been going on for almost three years. These are just a few of so many stories. And even for myself and my colleagues, the war has made out lives difficult. We queue for hours to get petrol, we often have no electricity and heating. Right now, with minus five degrees, our heaters in the house are not working. Many of us struggle to feed our families, as prices for food and medications are higher than ever.

But we strongly believe that our team of 174 in Aden, Hajjah, Amran and Turbah and other places in the country can change people’s lives. We work tirelessly to spread hope and empower the society to stay strong.

We are now in a new year. The wishes of last year haven't come true yet. We are still waiting for peace. The number of people in need has increased to 22 million, a new disease called Diphtheria is spreading, and people feel less safe as the conflict is still escalating.

Convincing people that tomorrow is better has become a very hard job.

My biggest wish for 2018 is peace. Only peace can help this whole nation to stand up again and build what this war has made of our lovely country Yemen. Next year I wish to talk about how the peace has saved the lives of Yemenis, and interview displaced people after they returned to their homes. I want to tell about my trips to Taiz, Hudydah and Aden, about the crowded airport of Sana’a, about less patients in the hospitals and more children in schools. About a society that turned a new page full of tolerance and passion to build new Yemen. And I wish the world this time will pay more attention not only to Yemen, but also to other forgotten crises on this planet. The more we believe in humanity, the less conflicts and hatred will take over.

Abdulhakim Al-Ansi 

Eman was the first cholera case Hakim met. CREDIT: Abdulhakim Al-Ansi/CARE