As the conflict in Yemen nears its sixth year, the conditions are worsening. We still feel the pain for the victims of wars, but when any Arab country goes through the world’s worst humanitarian holocaust in front of our eyes, we ought to turn blind. Yemen, which has been dealing with severe civil war, pandemic outbreak and other famines for over three decades now has reached the state of downright destruction and we have done nothing except “Condemned in Silence”.
The Internet is flooded with the visuals that haunt us, pictures that we do not want to look at more than once as it takes us back to a reality that we do not want to accept. A reality that we can never even dream of and for years these poor Yemenis have been living with it, many died and some survived. According to UNFPA, “76% of internally displaced persons (IDP) are women in Yemen.”
This conflict has taken a toll on education with about 2 million children out of the premises and about 1600 schools, unfit and in the dilapidated condition.
In conversation with a Yemeni girl Amirah (name changed) who is now settled in India, to get a better picture of the condition there, TSA brings you the first-hand account of her experience through an interview conducted by us to identify her psychological stress.
- Tell us about yourself and as a Yemeni how do you feel in India?
I am 19 years old, an undergrad student, pursuing a bachelors degree in Communicative English from Aligarh Muslim University. My elder sister is majoring in Linguistics and both my parents are completing their studies too and are enrolled as PhD students at the University itself. We are a family of four and are from Yemen and living in India since the year 2015. Earlier things were difficult but with time, we have adapted decently as people out here are really supportive.
- When and why did your family decide to leave Yemen and settle in India?
In 2014 a group of Houthis (Shiaa) started to show themselves on the stage as they wanted to help the Yemeni people and the country. They managed to somehow win trusts and were happily accepted by us. After some time, they started exploiting us. They barged in every house asking whether they are the followers of Shia or Sunni. If Sunnis, they were asked to change or else were threatened. Unfortunately, our family, a Sunni follower, was also bullied by them. It was in the year 2015, my father decided to move us out of the country. He realized that the future of both his children was at stake and started searching for any country that accepted Yemenis. Sadly, no country would accept us without any reason. During that time an old acquaintance of ours was studying here (in India) and my father told him that he is searching for permanent refuge for us. It was then when that person suggested Aligarh as a place to settle and AMU, a great University to study in. We applied for Visa (student Visa) and there was no looking back after that.
- How harsh were Houthis on you and your family?
The Houthis didn’t let the Sunni live in peace, apply for jobs at the Government offices nor were they given a good chance to prove their talent. They didn’t let schools function there properly. All great posts were deliberately given to the Shias and Sunni’s were either asked to convert or stay unemployed. They started arresting Sunni without a probable cause and purposely indulged in the fight with the young boys. They even went brutal with one of my cousins. Each day passed; traumatic. For us, children, it was like waking up with wars and fears.
Houthis now see themselves as a new power that can replace the government but sadly both failed us.
- Did the neighbouring country try to help Yemen?
Our bordering country instead of helping us started to use weapons to destroy us. They wanted to win Yamen with force and used wars as a medium. A country once abundant in the oil and gas refineries has now been wrecked by wars and corruption.
- What were the difficulties that you and your family had to go through in Yemen?
If I write from today, very rarely are the chances that it will finish up because to live in a country that has a lot of political parties fighting to win for self-interest, hardships are inevitable. Yet mentioning the most important due to which many people died are poverty, unemployment, water shortages, famines and corruption.
People who were rich, had access to the resources, started trading them at an exorbitant price and neighbouring countries’ interference led by Saudi Arabia has made the conditions worse.
- Was it easy to leave the country?
Absolutely not! It wasn’t easy to leave a place where you were born and have a family that loves you the most. Your friends who would be around you all the time with their countless stories to entertain. Nobody wants to emigrate but, if your land is encroached by enemies, it’s always the harsh decision that comes your way and the same happened to us. Eventually, we found our way and adjusted in India.
- Do you remember your school in Yemen?
Yes, I do remember going every morning to my school with all my friends until it was declared unfit and the buildings collapsed. We were warned by Houthis that if we step out of our houses for studies, consequences would be evil.
- What do you think would be a possible way to resolve the conflict? How do you think this can be resolved and peace be restored?
In my opinion, Saudia Arabia should stop its interference and help us by not waging wars with the Houthis unnecessarily. Both the groups Shias and Sunnis, powerful enough, should sit together, discuss and agree on mutual consent. Iran supports Houthis which is fine until the Sunnis there are safe. Best is to end it by resolving differences and deciding on a better future for all the Yemen residents who are living there and also who have fled the country due to war. Every Yemen citizen wants peace as we love our people and the country but some self-interest groups there have made things worse and this is the reason because of which Yemen is suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis.
The war in Yemen is a brutal example of how the expansion of global capitalist interests destroys nations. This was just a small edge by TSA to bring you a vivid picture from a young girl’s perspective. Amirah from Aligarh Muslim University belongs to a country where children are robbed of their future. Maybe she is now a happy person, away from the awakenings of mass killings in a foreign country she now calls—-home, but all are not fortunate. Yemen is suffering from the worst humanitarian catastrophe and the Coronavirus pandemic has made it worse.
A price that they are paying is a burden on all of us. War just does not kill people, it destroys them, their hopes, their willpower, their desire to do something in life. Will they ever be able to see a morning where people of Yemen wake up to the sounds of birds, not bombs? As it is rightly said, “Those who fight a war will never celebrate one.”
Wars are just not the answers to anything that is left unsorted. There are Shias there are Sunnis and the most substantive is humanity. Yamen’s 6 years long struggle from a young girl’s perspective just does not suffice us. We just heard her say, her story but we know there’s a lot in it. There are Shias too, who have suffered but the only difference is nobody will speak of them because of what Iran and Saudi Arabia did to the poor Yemenis. TSA leaves on its readers to decide who stands responsible? Shias, Sunnis or Wars?