My biggest wish for 2018 is peace in Yemen

Abdulhakim Al-Ansi
Adham, a young boy recovering in hospital after being treated for cholera

2017 was not a good year for Yemen

For me, it was the year I returned to my home country. In January, having worked and studied abroad for four years, I arrived at Aden Airport.

Of course I knew there had been a war in my country for almost three years, but I was still completely shocked by what I saw.

The building of the airport was destroyed: burned planes all around; tanks roaming around the airstrip.

On the way back to Sana’a, I was horrified by the damaged buildings and roads. It was the first time I’d travelled from Aden to Sana’a not being able to go through my home city, Taiz. For almost three years, the city where I was born and spent the best days of my life is living through merciless conflict.

Watch and listen to Hakim describing the situation in Yemen in his video blog:

Even so, everything I saw on this 12-hour journey was nothing compared to what I have experienced and heard since joining CARE International.

I returned to help my people, and I am seeing the miserable impact this war has had on each and every Yemeni.

For months, my colleagues and I have done everything we can to amplify their voices and draw attention towards the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis in a country which – even before the war – has been the poorest in the Middle East.

A year ago, the situation in Yemen was already critical

Last January, around 18 million Yemenis were in need of humanitarian assistance – more than half of the entire population. Huge numbers of people did not have access to safe and clean water. Garbage was covering the streets and villages. All public sector employees had been without salaries for several months.

At the end of April, cholera broke out and started to spread rapidly. Out of 23 provinces, 22 were affected, with 5-6,000 new cases reported on a daily basis.

I visited Yemen’s hospitals, where patients were lying down in the corridors. Old and young men, women, boys and girls. They were so weak, they could not even say a word.

I felt so bad for these patients, and I also felt so angry about this war, that these poor people had to experience such incredible pain.

a girl with her grandmother on a hospital bed in Yemen
Eman recovering in hospital, looked over by her grandmother

Eman was the first person I met with cholera. She was unable even to open her eyes, and her grandma was sitting next to her, crying.

She was asking the doctor whether her little girl would survive.

Adham was brought to the hospital very late. His parents kept him at home for more than 24 hours trying to cure him using home remedies. The child was unconscious, waiting for the overwhelmed doctors to save his life.

Other than share his story with the world, I could do nothing for him.

Karima had to watch her son die in front of her eyes as she did not have the money to take him to the hospital. She could not even feed him a piece of bread.

Within six hours of severe diarrhoea he passed away in the one room his family call home.

This war has been going on for almost three years now, and these stories are only a few among so many.

The hardships faced by everyone

The war has made life difficult even for my colleagues and me. We queue for hours to get petrol, and we often have no electricity and heating. Right now, with temperatures of minus five degrees, our heaters in the house are not working.

Many of us struggle to feed our families, as prices of food and medications are higher than ever.

However, we strongly believe that our team across the country can change people’s lives. We work tirelessly to spread hope and empower society to stay strong.

What lies ahead in 2018?

We are now some days into 2018, and the wishes of last year haven’t yet come true. We are still waiting for peace. The number of people in need has increased to 22 million, the spread of diphtheria – a bacterial disease not seen in Yemen since 1992 – is presenting new challenges, and people feel less safe as the conflict is escalating.

Convincing people that this year will be better has become a very hard job.

But we must convince them, and we must convince ourselves. My biggest wish for 2018 is peace. Only peace can help this whole nation to stand up again and rebuild our country.

At the end of this year, I want to be talking about how peace has saved the lives of Yemenis. And interviewing displaced people after they return to their homes.

I want to be able to talk about trips to Taiz, Hodeidah and Aden, about the crowded airport of Sana’a, about fewer patients in hospitals and more children in schools.

About a society that has turned a new page, full of tolerance and passion to build a new Yemen.

And I wish the world this time will pay more attention not only to Yemen, but also to other forgotten crises on this planet. The more we believe in humanity, the less conflicts and hatred will take over.

Abdulhakim Al-Ansi's picture

Abdulhakim Al-Ansi is a communications specialist with CARE Yemen.