News / Middle East

Yemeni Humanitarian Crisis Deepens

During a visit to an isolated desert settlement outside Yemen's capital Sanaa, VOA's Heather Murdock reports on the despair of some of the thousands of people who have fled their homes since the war in northern Yemen began in 2004

Multimedia

Audio
Heather Murdock

For families fleeing the war in northern Yemen, options are shrinking.  The capital Sanaa hosts more than 10,000 displaced people, and most live packed into dirty stone rooms without enough food, water or medical care. 

In Guder, on the outskirts of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, nobody seems to care who wins the war.

Yahya Hassen al-Aisery says his home in the Old City of Sa'ada, in Northern Yemen, is now occupied by the Houthis, a rebel army that has been battling the government here for six years.  Al-Aisery says his house is under attack by the Yemeni army.  

His family of 28 now stays in an isolated desert settlement, in the Guder area.  They share two small rooms, and none of the children go to school.

More than 200,000 people have fled their homes since the war began in 2004.  Many, like al-Aisery, have been displaced several times.  Aid workers and journalists have been banned from most of the war torn area, so no one really knows how many people are trapped.

Faisel al-Hussaini alsoo fled his home when renewed fighting broke out last summer.   He says in the war's epicenter, Sa'ada city, droves of people sleep on the streets, under tarps, and in abandoned cars.

The city is under siege, al-Hussaini says, and the little food available is ridiculously expensive for a population that appears to be mostly homeless.

Most of the people that have escaped the region are in refugee camps that opened last fall.  The population of the Mazrak camp, an isolated sea of dusty tents just outside the battlezone, has swelled to over 20,000 people in recent months, double the camp's capacity.  Al-Hussaini says camps provide tents, food, and water, but little dignity.  Many people prefer to try their luck elsewhere.

In Sana'a, he says, families often cannot rent apartments.  Landlords are afraid that northerners might be sympathetic to the rebel cause.  And in a city surrounded by mountains topped with government military bases, no one wants to be known as a Houthi.

But in Yemen, extreme poverty colors almost every aspect of life, and displaced families say lack of food, medicine and clean water are more troubling than discrimination.  Most displaced adults cannot find new jobs, and Sana'a schools often refuse to take displaced children because they do not have transcripts.  But in Guder, families say they are more concerned with surviving the war, and getting home.

For these families it could be a while.  Despite recent peace efforts, both sides report casualties almost daily.  The U.N. refugee agency representative in Yemen, Claire Bourgeois, says the humanitarian crisis is only getting worse. "It is difficult to say because we see we are not in the area of the conflict.  What I can say is a lot of people are coming, and we have not seen anyone returning," she said.

Bourgeois says the conflict has escalated during the past six years and there is no way of knowing when it will end.  And since adults cannot find work, and children cannot go to school, for many displaced families, the only thing they can do, is wait.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid