Photos: Caitlin Cockroft for Action Against Hunger
Osama and Hasan's stories from Yemen
March 2018 marks three years since the outbreak of war in Yemen
Mar 26 2018
This month marks three years since the Saudi-led coalition forces entered Yemen, initiating a devastating war in one of the Middle East’s poorest countries. The ongoing conflict in Yemen has left millions acutely malnourished, with no source of income, vulnerable to diseases and in need of urgent humanitarian and protection assistance.
Our teams in Yemen support people just like Hasan and Osama, who have fled conflict and tried to rebuild their lives in the hardest conditions. Below, Hasan and Osama reflect on their lives in Yemen, three years after the outbreak of war.
“I am the oldest of my brothers and at the age of 13 I was the only one earning any money. My father died in Aden two years ago. Soon after my Mother had a nervous breakdown, became ill and died. As orphans and as children we had to take care of ourselves because we had no parents to do it for us.”
“After the death of my parents, my siblings and I were passed from one family member to the next. An aunt first took us in, but after a few months, she left us after getting married. We were then taken in by another aunt for a while but she also left us to look after my grandmother who lives in another town.”
“At this time we were in Hamili. When the fighting reached this area, we went to stay with my grandfather who lives here in Al-Garrahi, but we do not have a lot to live on. My grandfather also takes care of one of my uncles who has cancer and whose medical treatment is very expensive.”
“Our only source of income comes from humanitarian aid and handouts that people give us. At first we received food aid but we had to sell some of it to buy other things and pay the rent. Right now we are receiving financial aid directly and some basic essentials that enable us to be more independent and manage our needs.”
“I want to say thank you for all the efforts you are making to help displaced people.”
Our emergency-response teams found Hasan in a small handmade shack in the district of Al-Garrahi.
“Before the war, I lived in the town of Mukhaa, where I sold vegetables in a grocery shop. My wife, Sumaya, took care of the house and bringing up the children. When the war reached our village, we first went a few kilometres away to stay with relatives. Sumaya was nine months pregnant when I took her to a healthcare centre because there seemed to be something wrong with the baby. The war and subsequent shortage of fuel meant that the hospital services were depending heavily on an unreliable generator. Lack of electricity meant the standard of care had decreased significantly. There was not enough specialised medical staff and there were several power cuts during the birth. They could not save her or the baby.”
Hasan and his children were forced to move on again and settle further away from the conflict ending up in the place they are now. “My neighbours call me the “Loyal Man” because, after Sumaya died, I decided that I would devote myself to my children and play the role of Mother and Father at the same time.”
Supporting the needs of a family of six is difficult in times of crisis: companies are closing and job offers are few and far between, explains Hasan. “I have looked everywhere for work, without success. We are able to survive thanks to the support of our neighbours and aid from humanitarian organisations.”
Hasan and his family as well as 500 more, have received a basic kit including soap, blankets and other items indispensable to leading a dignified existence. They have also received financial aid to buy food and other day-to-day essentials.
Our work in Yemen
We have been working in Yemen since 2012 providing emergency aid, nutrition and health programmes, ensuring communities have access to food and clean water and renovating and building sufficient sanitation facilities.
We provide therapeutic treatment to children under five years of age suffering from malnutrition. Pregnant and breastfeeding women benefit from pre and post-natal screening, including administration of nutritious supplements. Action Against Hunger also provides financial aid and food vouchers to enabling communities to regain independence and buy food from local markets. Our teams also renovate and build water points and toilets in communities, schools, and healthcare centres.