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Yemenis in Egypt Demand Passage Home

  • Heather Murdock

More than 100 Yemenis protested outside their country's embassy in Cairo Tuesday, clamoring for help getting home. Inside Yemen, however, many families are trying to escape as the death toll climbs daily from ongoing fighting.

Protester say they came to Cairo to see a doctor a few weeks ago, before Saudi Arabia began airstrikes in Yemen. Now, they are stuck in Egypt because of a war between militants and Saudi Arabia that has nothing to do with the people, they say.

Gamila Salah, who is from the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, sits on the sidewalk outside the embassy. She says her family came here for medical treatment, but now they have run out of money and are living on the streets.

Protesters say they have been told there are no planes going to Yemen because the airports have been bombed. Many don’t believe this.

Ali Ali Mohammad, a Yemeni civil servant, blames all of the warring parties, saying they are fighting for personal power.

The United Nations said Tuesday that at least 540 people have been killed and 1,700 people injured in Yemen in the past three weeks.

"Seventy-four children are known to have been killed and 44 children maimed so far, since the fighting began on 26 March," said Christophe Boulierac, speaking for the U.N. Children's agency. "But, we say, we are aware that these are conservative figures and we believe that the total number of children killed is much higher."

Inside Yemen, some families are clamoring to get out as supplies of food, fuel, clean water and medicine dwindle, in some places almost to nothing.

Summer Nasser is an activist and a journalist in Yemen. Less than a week ago, she and her family left Yemen’s second city, Aden, which is now the heart of the battle.

“Obviously water has been cut for the past four days, from what I know, electricity as well in most parts of Aden. Mostly though, a lot of people are concerned about medical supplies," Nasser said. "There are a lot of [unfortunate] killings and injured and we can’t get medical supplies from within the country because of the street wars, and from outside because of the blockades."

The Red Cross says it is trying to get two planes full of medical supplies to Yemen in the next two days.

Backed by Iran, Houthi militants control much of Yemen’s north and began launching strikes in the southern port city, Aden, last month.

Saudi Arabia - loosely allied with the scattered, largely defunct, government - has been pounding Yemen with airstrikes for nearly two weeks. Yemeni people complain they are caught up in a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia that has nothing to do with them.

Protesters say with no real government to protect them outside the country, they may be safer at home with their families.

Mohammad Sulaiman, who was at the Cairo protest in a wheelchair, pleaded for rescue, as he looked into the camera and called on all of humanity to deliver stranded Yemenis to their homes.

If the world can’t help them survive, he says, at least the world can help them die at home.