Women, children in Yemeni refugee camps pay price for war

By Muhammad Al-Samei

SANAA, Yemen (AA) – Hundreds of thousands of women and children who have been displaced because of the seven-year war in Yemen and took shelter in refugee camps are struggling to survive under difficult conditions.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said recently that war has displaced 4 million people, mostly women and children, of which 64% do not have any income.

"I moved to live between four camps for six years, before I ended up in the al-Barakani camp in Taiz province [southwest]," Jawhara al-Rai told Anadolu Agency.

"There is no real life in the camp. I almost die of tragedy as there are no minimum necessities of life or aid. The rainy season has become a nightmare for all the displaced in the camps."

"As the rain continues, everything here becomes wet, even wheat and firewood, and life becomes a tragedy," she said.

The rainy season begins from mid-April to August and tens of thousands of people have already been affected by torrential rains, most of whom are displaced, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen.

"We live, sleep, eat and cook in this rain-dampened tent, without blankets, beds or heaters," said al-Rai while she hugged her crying baby.

– Tents snakes

Huda al-Dinani, who lives in the same camp told Anadolu Agency about her concerns about the lack of assistance. "We have been displaced to this camp for months, and since that time no organization has reached us to provide us with help and assistance."

"We did not get tents, food or expenses except from a benefactor who provides us with a bag of flour every month," she said as she carried her baby and two children.

Al-Dinani pointed to what a woman sitting in front of a cooking site was making as "aseed" — a poor meal made of water and flour. "This tragic situation forced us to beg in the markets to continue living.”

And she complained about the spread of snakes.

“A few days ago we killed a snake in front of the tent. I was afraid for my children because a poisonous bite that would end their lives in minutes."

"When we get sick, we don't go to doctors or get treatment. We suffer from hunger, disease and poverty," she added.

– 2 million displaced

Yemeni journalist Afaf al-Abara said conditions of the displaced in Yemen are very difficult, especially for women and children.

"There are many women who are experiencing the ordeal of hunger and disease, while others have left life due to difficult births due to the lack of health services or the spread of diseases," she told Anadolu Agency.

"There are about 2 million displaced Yemeni women, who suffer the bitterness and cruelty of the experience of displacement, and they live in the hope that the war will end and they will return to their homes," Al-Abara said.

For nearly seven years, Yemen has been witnessing a war that has killed at least 233,000 people, and 80% of the population of 30 million, has become dependent on aid to survive, in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN.

The conflict has been exacerbated since March 2015 when an Arab coalition led by neighboring Saudi Arabia carried out military operations in support of government forces, in the face of the Iranian-backed Houthis, who control several governorates, including the capital, Sanaa.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat