Yemen, which was once described by the Romans as the most blessed region in the Arabian Peninsula, is on the border of collapse after 1,000 days of a brutal civil war. It’s a far cry from a country that was once the center of the worlds coffee trade.
In ancient times, Yemen was known as Arabia Felix, which is Latin for “happy” or “fortunate”. It acquired the name because of its high mountains attracted rain, making it more fertile than most of the Arabian Peninsula. Recent history, however, shows Yemen is the opposite of happy or fortunate. On March 21, 2015, when a coalition led by Saudi Arabia went to war with Houthi rebels, a civil war broke out in Yemen. Now, over 1,000 days later, more than 13,000 people have been killed, over 1 million people infected with cholera and 7 million at the risk of acute famine.
The devastating consequences of the war are clear for everyone to see and the innocent civilians, including children, in Yemen are the ones taking the brunt of the attacks. 5,000 children have been killed or injured from the effects of the war, leaving a further 400,000 severely malnourished and fighting for their lives. The figure of 5,000 children killed or injured in the war, amounts on average to a staggering 5 children every single day since March 2015.
How it started in Yemen
Yemen was already a poor country before any external factors were brought into it. A country which was victim of corruption which led to an angry backlash causing conflict that has effected nobody worse than the innocent civilians.
In March 2015, the conflict reached boiling point causing a chain reaction resulting in a civil war. It was at this date the war officially began in Yemen and the major fighting broke out. The devastating effects did not take long to make an impact in Yemen. Within the first 10 months it had killed 2,800 innocent civilians, with 8,100 killed overall. More than 2.4 million Yemenis had to flee their homes to elsewhere in the country and 120,000 sought asylum in other countries.
The effects of the war in Yemen
Fast forward another 24 months of war and the situation in Yemen is as bad as it has ever been. Hospitals are unable to treat the most basic illnesses, thousands of schools have been forced to shut down, busy neighborhoods have been completely abandoned, and buildings which been around for centuries have been reduced to rubble and dust.
In a report published by Unicef it said more than 3 million children were born into the war adding they had been “scarred by years of violence, displacement, disease, poverty, undernutrition and a lack of access to basic services”. Even before the fighting broke out, Yemen was one of the poorest countries in the Middle East. Adding that fact to the war, has had severe consequences on the people and the state of the country. The UN have called it the “worlds worst humanitarian crisis”. 22.2 million people in Yemen now depend on humanitarian aid. About 16 million people cannot access safe water or healthcare, 4.5 million children are at risk of losing access to education and 8.4 million Yemenis are close to starvation.
Cholera outbreak in Yemen
The damage from the war has also turned Yemen into a fertile environment for cholera. It’s an infection spread by drinking contaminated water, which more and more Yemenis are having to do, with the garbage piling up and sewage systems failing. In developed countries, cholera is not life-threatening and is easily treated. But with rampant malnutrition in Yemen, it has made people, especially children, vulnerable to the disease.
Prior to Yemen, Haiti had the worst outbreak since records began. After the earthquake in 2010, Haiti had the first modern large-scale outbreak of cholera. While there were 815,000 cases of cholera in Haiti between 2010 and 2017, Yemen has exceeded that number in just SIX months.
It had already become the worlds biggest cholera outbreak in history, but now Yemen has hit 1 MILLION cholera cases, and at an incredibly fast speed. There have been 2,227 reported deaths from the disease. Approximately half of the cases, and a quarter of the deaths were among children. The International Committee of the Red Cross announced the news of 1 million cases on their official Twitter account describing it as ‘shocking’.
Many media outlets have conducted interviews with various witness to the destruction. It’s a great way for those suffering to explain exactly what they’re going through to help those who are oblivious to the war.
“Death and destruction are the first things to greet you when entering Saada province,” said Hisham Abdullah, a 27-year-old father of two and resident of Saada city. “You could be at home sleeping, walking to the shops, playing football with your children, but at any moment a Saudi air strike can take you out. Even dogs don’t dare walk the streets ” he said.
Once a city of around 50,000 people, Saada has turned into a ghost town, with more than 2,996 coalition strikes pulverising the Houthi stronghold “Some may say we are crazy to have stayed, but what else are we to do, where do we go? We have seen how the Syrians are suffering in refugee camps – our fate would be the same if we left” Abdullah said.
“I’m learning to live without electricity,” Lutf Alsanani, a 25-year-old Sanaa resident said. “I don’t have access to clean water, gas, cooking oil, and I haven’t received my salary in a year. In 1,000 days, Yemen has become a land of blood and bombs. This place is hell on earth.”
Data compiled by the Yemen Data Project, released in December, revealed that nearly a third of all coalition air strikes since the start of the war hit civilian sites including schools, hospitals and mosques.
The study found that out of the 15,489 air raids recorded from March 26, 2015 to December 15, 2017, 386 struck farms, 212 hit schools, 183 hit marketplaces, 44 hit historical buildings and 44 hit mosques.
Manal Alwesabi, a 30-year-old resident of Hodeidah, said since coalition forces advanced, life had taken a dramatic turn for the worse.
“The situation in Hodeidah is really bad, but it’s far worse in neighbouring villages. People are fleeing from one place to the next, trying to find safety, but life has become so difficult that we’ve come to accept our fate. We hoped that this war would end soon, but that hope is gone. We’re all alone, facing one disaster after the next.”
What we do to help the needy in Yemen
Although the fighting shows no signs of slowing down, we at SABA Relief are still doing all we can to support to struggles Yemen face. The shocking facts presented is what pushes SABA to undertake more campaigns and expand as a charity to help even more. Our campaigns include emergency aid, food aid, water aid and health. Throughout the year we also undertake seasonal campaigns such as Winter appeal, Ramadan Appeal and Qurbani.