08 February 17
Conflict has driven Yemen to the brink of famine. Few areas have been hit harder than al-Hudaydah, where many people are now bereft of hope
room-maker Taie al-Nahari is kneeling on the sand, shirtless, outside his thatched hut in al-Qaza village in Yemen’s al-Hudaydah governorate. His bones show through his skin.
Before the conflict began in 2015, the 53-year-old was a fisherman. Now he makes two brooms a day, which earns him a daily income of $1. “The boats that we were working on were bombed [by Saudi jets]. Now my family and I don’t have enough to eat,” he says.
The conflict is the primary driver of a hunger crisis that the UN has warned could turn to famine this year if nothing is done.
On Wednesday, the UN launched a $2.1bn (£1.6bn) appeal to prevent famine in the Arab world’s poorest nation, where nearly 3.3 million people – including 2.1 million children – are acutely malnourished. The humanitarian appeal is the largest launched for Yemen and aims to provide life-saving assistance to 12 million people this year.
Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said: “The situation in Yemen is catastrophic and rapidly deteriorating”. At least 10,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict.
Al-Nahari lives in the area of Yemen worst hit by the crisis. He says even those fishermen whose boats have remained intact do not dare to sail for fear of being bombed by the Saudi jets that frequently bomb targets within the country. The attacks are to counter the advances of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control the capital, Sana’a, and have spread out across Yemen. “The war killed our only income, which was [me] working as a fisherman, and now we are jobless and hopeless,” he says.
Al-Nahari did not earn much as a fisherman, but it was enough to buy flour and some basic food. “We are broken, we don’t have enough money, no food, nothing to eat, nothing to work with,” he says.
Fatima takes care of her two grandsons in al-Hudaydah’s al-Mujelis village. Ali is 11 and Mohammed four. They both suffer from thalassemia and their condition has been exacerbated by the lack of rich food. “We have no money to treat my grandsons or to feed ourselves. Since we lost our jobs, we have no income and we have nothing to eat,” she says.