Our humanitarian NGO Mona Relief planned a short trip to Hareeb al-Qaramish district in Marib Governorate, where 10,710 people (including 6,426 children) live. The purpose of the trip was to conduct a survey to assess what relief aid the people there would need. Located in eastern Yemen, Hareeb al-Qaramish district is 72 Kilometers from the capital Sana’a.
The situation there is horrifying beyond description. We noted on this trip that more than 200 people are in dire need of basic amenities.
Intense battles are being fought in the district itself between the two opposing sides in Yemen. Due to the conflict there, hundreds of families have been forced to flee from the luxury of their homes to caves in the countryside, to save their families from being caught under the crossfire from both the warring sides.
During our visit to the district, we met many families living in the same situation because they have no other options. They had the choice to live in the caves without any amenities or die in a crossfire of bombings and get buried in the rubble of their houses.
Abdul Qader, a father of eight children told us about his daily sufferings in the cave that he along with his family chose to move to for safety.
“Ten months ago, I came to this place leaving behind my own house after it was hit by a mortar shell and half of my house was destroyed” he said. He added, “Thank God! I still alive and none of my family’s members were injured.’’
“Looking for a suitable place to live in is hard especially when destiny puts your life at risk and you are left with no choices,’’ Saleh commented. He is a farmer and used to live near the al-Saleb mountain, where clashes are going on presently. He has two wives and twelve children. Now he lives with them in a cave that lack any basic amenities.
Abdul al-Qader and Saleh chose to live close by in the same area to be able to come to the aid each others families in the case of attacks by wild animals at night. “Every single night since the past 10 months, I keep awake at night alert for any movement of wild animals nearby to ’’ Saleh mentioned.
“Not only the wild animals, but I also have to be careful about poisonous snakes,’’ he added. “Once my little boy, Ahmed was about to be bit by a poisonous snake but thank God who saved his life and we killed the snake in time.’’
Not only is the environment cruel but also the cruelty of the human being themselves that they are treating by. Inside their caves nothing is available- neither food, nor water, nor clothes, blankets, nothing! But they have only have hope, the hope to return to their houses sooner or later after the war ends but when no one can predict.
During our visit, I entered the cave of Abdul Qader trying to find some food in his new house, I mean cave. But I couldn’t find any. When I asked him how do you get the food for your family, his answer shocked me.
“Don’t say me how, as you see yourself. We have no food, we are just trying to stay alive by eating one meal every two days.’’ He added, “The helpful neighbours, provide us some food from time to time and we stock it up to use in the coming days.’’
Due to the ongoing war in that area, no one dares to travel to that area and hardly any of the local and international NGOs are able to reach out to people there to save them from starvation and diseases.
I had seen a truck loading wheat while on the road to Hareeb al-Qaramish months ago. It was rumored to have been hit by an airstrike during its trip to the area. I didn’t believe it then but I later saw broken parts of the a truck myself. While on our way back to Sana’a, fighter jets of the Saudi-coalition hit a vehicle on the road but thank God we weren’t hit.
Upon arrival in Sana’a along with Mona Relief’s crew, I received a call from well wishers in Hareeb al-Qaramish inquiring if we are safe because they heard news that a fighter jet bombed a car en-route to Sana’a, and that they were worried that the car is ours. I reassured them that we are safe.
These are my personal experiences from my short trip with my crew at Mona Relief from Sana’a to Hareeb al-Qaramish.
Video of the interaction (in Arabic) with these two families:
This article is written by Mona Relief founder, Mr. Fatik Al-Rodaini.