Families call for peace as they bear the brunt of the Yemen crisis

A girl peeps out of her family's tent, Yemen
Wafaa, 12, peeks out of her family’s tent.

After eight months of fighting in Yemen almost 2.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Displacement is tearing ordinary families apart and thousands of people don’t have access to health care.

The conflict, like any other, is affecting men and women differently with women often suffering the brunt of war; maintaining their role as primary care-givers as well as becoming the main breadwinners of their families as their sons and husbands are killed or become unable to find work.

A mother and her children, internally displaced during the Yemen crisis, sit in their tent.

Aisha with her children Wafaa, 12, Najlaa, 5, and Yasi*, 2, sitting in their shelter.

Aisha's husband and eldest son died in a bombing in a market in Hardh after that she fled with her family. She describes her situation now as “miserable".

“I worry endlessly about my kids, their health and wellbeing – are we going to have enough to eat, are they sick, do they need anything? If this isn’t enough we can hear the bombs and the fighting in the distance. We sit by as if waiting for our turn to die like so many others before us – why would it be different for us?”

She is angry about what has happened to her and her family but also about the wider crisis, “shame on all sides fighting this war – we’re the people they claim to be fighting for, and they’ve humiliated all of us” she says. “My children are lost, they’re sick, hungry and we have nothing – enough is enough!”

A displaced family in Yemen in the classroom where they are sheltering

Jameel, 35, from Taiz sits with his wife and one of their five children in the classroom at Al-Nuaman school where they are currently living.

Jameel and his family left their home in Taiz because of the bombings. “If you’re still alive, the war has probably had severe effects on your morale. It has killed our chances of getting jobs and our freedom. Safety and security no longer exist. That is what the war has done to us.”

Jameel can no longer find work, “women here are facing a difficult challenge. Before the war, the men used to work and the women stayed at home” but now they are being forced to work, but of course, “they’re adapting and proving themselves”. 

A displaced family sit on the steps of the building where they are sheltering, Yemen

Wafaa, 28, brushes her daughter hair on the steps on the building where she and her family are staying.

Yemini women are proving that not only they can support their families, but that they are also a force for peace.

Wafaa, says “We just want to go back home. We want to live in peace. We have kids, we have elderly people and we have jobless men - men who can’t work and pay their rent or build their homes. I want for my children to have a future. I want them to learn and stay close to me. I don’t want them to ask for help from anybody but from my husband and me.”

A mother and her children in the tent where they live after fleeing conflict, Yemen

Um Aiman sitting with her children in the tent where they now shelter.

“My kids are out of school, we need a comfortable house or anything better than a tent. We need peace of mind. Security – that is the most important thing. Just a few weeks ago we had it all, now we have nothing but dust and dread” says Um Aiman whose family is forced to rely on aid parcels.

She calls out for a solution to the conflict, “the world cannot forget Yemen, they need to help us instead of sitting by and watching as this catastrophe unfolds.”

In response to the current crisis Oxfam has supported more than 340,000 individuals.

Read more testimonies about life in Yemen on Exposure

Photos: Hind Al-Eryani