June 29, 2015

YEMEN BLOG: What of the Yemeni people?

The following blog post is a personal account of the attacks that took place on the 26th and 27th of March from Nina Aqlan, programme officer of SPARK’s Yemen office, who has since then evacuated from Yemen for safety reasons.

Information has been flowing as reports of the number of casualties and those injured come in from the airstrikes and anti aircrafts in cities across Yemen including Sana’a, Aden, Hudeidah and Sa’ada. In Sana’a, anti aircrafts were reportedly fired from within residential areas mainly due to the location of intelligence branches and military bases nearby. Due to the sporadic nature of these attacks, the numbers of causalities and injuries vary as attacks are typically carried out during the night while information is collected and disseminated the day after. This war is destroying our country. Innocent civilians find themselves amidst the violence and do not support this war. Who is going to listen to us?

Having cross checked with hospitals in Sana’a, I found that according to the Ministry of Interior and Human Rights Watch the attacks on March 26th and 27th resulted in 23 (other sources reporting 27) civilian deaths and 24 injured. Among the civilian causalities were 5 children aged 2 to 13, 6 women and an elderly man. The injured included 12 children aged 3 to 8 and 2 women. Amnesty International reports that at least 14 homes were destroyed during the strikes on the International Airport of Sana’a. According to a local human rights organisation, in an area within close proximity to the airport, it has been reported that families were found dead in the rubbles of their home by their own neighbours. The media has released statements that warplanes from the government of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan participated in the airstrikes on March 26th and 27th. Further international participation included naval support from Pakistan and Egypt as well as intelligence and logistical support from the United States.

No confirmation was able to be made on the numbers of causalities and injuries from the Saudi air strikes in Hudeidah. It has been reported that the Airport and Al Saleef Sea Port was also targeted and that nearby residential areas were affected by the attack. Sa’ada was largely affected by the air strikes. Our contacts in Taiz reported that Al Makha may have also been targeted by the air strikes. With news of the reported causalities there has been continuous on the ground clashes between civilian protesters and Houthies in Taiz.

It has been warned that Saudi air strikes may be expected in the comings day.  If this is the case the likely hood of civilians being affected by the attacks are very high. Taiz is the highest populated city (2.8 mill. in 2012) and most of the intelligence agencies and military bases are located very close to the residential areas. In light of the current ongoing clashes dispersed across different cities, movement or relocation of these families to their hometown villages is dangerous.

In the city of Aden, intense on the ground clashes between loyalist militias and Houthies have emerged which has led to high numbers of casualties including children and youth. Reports claim that 61 people have died and 203 injured in the last 3 days. Rumours state that tomorrow, Saudi airstrikes may begin to target the city of Aden.

This Saudi led military operation has created serious ramifications for the people of Yemen who are paying the price with their lives, psychological trauma and not to mention the destruction to Yemen’s infrastructure and further economic collapse of the country. Women and children are often the first to be affected and suffer the most. There have even been reports of women suffering miscarriages from the scare. Considering that Yemen is already suffering from an ever serious humanitarian crisis alongside extreme poverty, if this war were to continue it would have devastating effects and only further deteriorate conditions of the country.

The majority of the people in Yemen, including myself, are against this external military intervention. It is beyond me however that there are also many Yemeni’s who support the war perceiving it as a lesser evil in comparison to Houthie control of Yemen. The consequence of war never was and never will be a better solution. This is not a war between Shia and Sunni nor is it a war fighting for the restoration of the legitimacy of the government of Yemen; it is purely a geo-political war. As we view it, this war is about power in the Middle East. It is unclear what good this war will bring. What will the intervention of the Arab coalition lead to? In whose hands will the fate of Yemen be decided when they’ve left no one and no sense of how to unite this country, now more divided than ever?

So many questions but one thing is for sure, this war will not answer them.

**Check out Nina Aqlan’s campaign ‘Everyday Yemen’ featuring striking photographs of everyday life in Yemen, capturing the heart and beauty of Yemeni people despite the turmoil within the country. You can find Everyday Yemen on Insagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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 conclict, we welcome external contributions; to contribute please contact media[at]