Yemen: Testimonies from Al-Dhale
"We believe that the violence will continue during Ramadan: a ceasefire won’t be implemented unless the two warring parties respect it."
Jasmin Mohammed Ali (26) is a teacher in the primary school in Qatabah and her sister Asia Mohammed Ali (25) talk about their daily life in Qatabah since the conflict erupted.
"Because of the ongoing crisis, the school I work in is closed; it has been closed for 3 months. We only finished the 1st term and had to stop during the 2nd term. I haven’t been paid for the last month. Recently, the school (which was luckily empty at the time) was affected by the airstrikes as it is close to the central security office which was targeted; all the windows of the school were shattered into pieces.
Since the new crisis in Yemen started things have become much harder. It is harder to get food and water. It is hard to get food as many shops have closed. On the other hand, some Yemeni families depend completely on the work in the khat (qat) market. If there is bombing or shelling close by, everyone runs away from the khat market and business is lost. Our father and brother work in the khat market. If they cannot work in the khat market, they won’t have enough money to buy food for the family. Prices of food, especially basic food, have increased dramatically. For an example, twenty liters of cooking oil used to be 5,000 Yemeni Rial (YER), now they have to pay 9,500 YER. 15 kg of sugar used to be 12,000 YER, now they have to pay 18,000 YER.
Lack of water is our biggest challenge
Water represents everything and without water there is no life. There isn’t any running water anymore in Qataba as the main water facility for the town and the surrounding villages stopped working due to a fuel shortage. We have no water in our house and cannot fill up the tanks either. There is only one water well in Qataba town that has good water for drinking and is for free. If this well is not working we would walk to another well where there is the main water facility. This trip usually takes between three to four hours round trip by foot and if we go there, we cannot bring that many containers as we can only carry one container, it’s very heavy. Unfortunately, this borehole isn’t working for the moment due to the fuel issue as well.
Meanwhile, the main well in Qataba is becoming very crowded and women in town fill their containers with a multitude of personal hoses. That would take a long time to fill up all the containers.
We couldn’t go to the well, today, as it was too crowded. Water trucks are still available but it is only used by rich people, one water truck costs 30,000 YER for 6,000 liters and it only lasts for about 1-2 weeks depending on the size of the family.
The impact of airstrikes
Airstrikes and shelling is making us terrified and we can’t sleep well. Last night, the kids were too afraid as the shelling and fighting was very close by.
We have been thinking about fleeing Qataba, but the problem is that we are 26 family members living in one house. We don’t know where to go.
It might be better to stay in Qataba since we have a home here. We don’t own a house in any of the surrounding villages where it would be quieter. We have relatives in Damt district in Al-Dhale, which could be an option. If the situation deteriorates, half of the family might go to Damt with the other half staying in Qataba. If the bombing and shelling continues and if the frontline moves closer, we might decide to leave.
Ramadan in Qatabah
We never imagined that this could happen. Qataba was very peaceful and didn’t have any problems. People would come to Qataba from different districts of different governorates during the holy month of Ramadan but this year nobody will come. Qataba is perceived to be better than other districts for Ramadan because of its culture during Ramadan. The streets will be filled with markets and people."
Nurse, in Al Dhale: "I’m too afraid of being here."
A Nurse working in one of the MSF supported hospitals in Yemen, talks about his experience with hearing airstrikes for the first time in Al Dhale, Yemen.
"I had never heard such explosions in my life. I didn’t understand right away that these were airstrikes but I remembered hearing planes earlier. I was afraid; I felt that bombs exploded next to me… I was shaking. After that I was suffering from a severe headache and felt as if I would go into a coma because when I left MSF supported hospital in Al Dhale Governorate where I work, I couldn’t find any transport to go back home. People were on the streets in front of the hospital disoriented, confused. When I finally managed to get transportation, it was a small public bus, I was asking the driver to drive as fast as he could to leave the area. After that incident, I decided to take a couple of days off and stay home with my family but I couldn’t stay home for so long because my work is our only source of income. This incident affected me badly; now I start shivering and trembling even when I hear a gun shot or any sound of explosions. For example, when I’m climbing the stairs in the house or the hospital and someone slams the door downstairs, I might even fall unconscious from that because of fear. I’m not sure for how long I’ll be working in the hospital or with MSF; I prefer to be home with my family where it’s safe and away from the airstrikes and fights, instead of working in a hospital at the frontlines. I’m too afraid of being here."
MSF in Al- Dhale
MSF provides life-saving healthcare services in Ministry of health (MOH) Al-Nasser Hospital in Al-Dhale District, in southwestern Yemen. The support includes emergency room (24/7), surgery, post-operative care, sterilization, laboratory, infection control, health care waste management and referrals.
In addition, MSF is supporting Al-Azarik Health Center in the emergency room, ante-natal care (ANC), post-natal care, family planning, normal deliveries, routine vaccination, nutrition and referrals to Al-Nasser Hospital. In Qataba, MSF supports the emergency room (24/7), observation room, laboratory and health care waste management in the MOH Al-Salam Hospital.
In the last month, MSF expanded its activities by supporting the outpatient department, nutrition and ante-natal care. MSF also provides potable water to 25,000 through the unique suitable borehole of Qataba town.
MSF is also supporting several health centers in Al- Jaffea and Al-Habilain Hospitals with medical supplies and equipment in the governorate.
Since the beginning of 2015, MSF project in Al-Dhale’ has received 10,317 patients in the emergency room and 1,232 injured among which are more than 490 war wounded. MSF also provided general consultations to 11,206 patients.