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 Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid