August 21, 2015

Yemen Blog: Happy Eid

Written by Haitham Al-Dumini – ABC program assistant for Hudeidah

This year Eid has been totally different from past Eids. Fighting in Yemen has not ceased despite the holy month of Ramadan, in fact it has intensified. Normally the festival of Eid celebrates forgiveness, charity, remembrance of God and generosity to ones neighbours. It is also an opportunity to gather around with members of one’s family. This year, however, was different.

Airstrikes and fighting have become staples of everyday life in Yemen. I’ve learned to adapt but my two-year-old cousin still asks questions and I’m forced to lie. “What is this sound? It’s scaring me,” he asks. I tell him it is just fireworks. But after more than 100 days of fireworks, I think he’s figured it out.

Things escalated in the beginning of May, a few houses were destroyed in my neighbourhood and most of our house windows were broken as a result of the airstrikes. My family and I tried to move to a safer location, but soon discovered that such a place no longer existed.

But this isn’t just about the fighting. Restrictions on imports in to Yemen have left us without adequate quantities of food, fuel or medicine. The conflict in Yemen has resulted in inflation with the limited supplies available in the marketplace now selling at incredibly high prices well beyond the reach of millions of Yemenis. Many people have lost their jobs and incomes as a result of the conflict; my brother, for example, worked as a teacher in a language institute that shut down four months ago when the war broke out.

When my family tried to leave Sana’a, they couldn’t afford fuel for the car. One petrol station had some petrol available; however the price was three times more than what we used to pay, so we couldn’t afford to buy enough. The price of cooking gas doubled, and in addition to the lack of power and clean water, we’re now effectively trapped, helpless and running out of crucial supplies.

There has been talk about a temporary ceasefire but we haven’t seen any concrete changes on the ground.  Airstrikes on Sana’a and fighting in the South continued regardless of the last truce that was meant to begin on Sunday at midnight, July 26th.

So how are we going to get out of this mess? To start with we need all sides to adhere to a permanent ceasefire, as well as an arms embargo to stop the flow of weapons into Yemen. I believe that fighting will inevitably cease when all parties in the current conflict run out of arms and ammunition. Furthermore, restrictions on imports need to be lifted, as currently more people are endangered by the lack of supplies than from bullets and bombs.

But Yemen is no stranger to crises. The country has historically struggled with corruption, mismanagement of resources, and a weak governance apparatus. Any long-term solution will require Yemenis to come together and resolve, once and for all, some of these pending issues.  Groups representing different communities in Yemen should sit across the same table and work towards a long-term political solution that addresses the needs and inequalities plaguing the country.

If Yemenis care about their country – and I believe we do – we should put our contentions aside and work towards the common good, through negotiations, reconciliations and compromises.

*Image provided by the blog author*

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YEMEN BLOG is SPARK’s blog of stories, updates and opinions by SPARK staff, of their personal experiences of the Yemen conflict on the ground after Saudi led military intervention- Operation Decisive Storm- launched and first struck the capital, Sana’a.  If you would like to share your own experiences of the conflict, we welcome external contributions; to contribute please contact media[at]