Letter from Sanaa: Some long for death as a way out

A resident of the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital says a ceasefire will not heal the wounds of a broken people.

More than 5,000 people have been killed during the war in Yemen, including 830 women and children [Reuters]

Yemen has been embroiled in a vicious conflict since March 2015, with more than 10,000 people killed, mostly civilians, and the country pushed to the brink of famine.

Fighting has pitted Yemen’s Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against forces loyal to the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who are backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

The capital Sanaa, which is included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites, has been ravaged by air strikes.

Hisham al-Omeisy, a resident of the city, spoke with Al Jazeera’s Faisal Edroos about daily life amid the war and what a seven-day ceasefire may yield.

There is a lot of international hype around the ceasefire in Yemen – which, when announced, seemed like a good idea. However, for those of us having to endure this bitter conflict, it offers little hope, and is more bemusing than anything else.

It’s not the ceasefire we find bemusing, as most of us living in this war zone already know what to expect. Rather, it is the media’s reporting of what the truce entails and the actual effect it will have on the average Yemeni that we find baffling. 

The situation is so desolate that it's common to hear some people saying they wish an air strike would end their misery.


We’ve been through two ceasefires in the past few months, so we know it generally means a cessation of air strikes in some areas and a reduction in others, while ground battles continue to rage. As a result, while the ceasefire is being embraced by politicians and the media, we’re welcoming it less enthusiastically.

For almost nine months, the war in Yemen has destroyed cities, roads, infrastructure, the economy, and the country’s social fabric.  There are now more than 2.3 million internally displaced people, and 80 percent of the population is in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

READ MORE: Starvation in Yemen: ‘We are hoping just to survive’

There are severe shortages of basic services and commodities – including electricity, fuel, food, water and drugs – and the situation is exacerbated significantly by a commercial blockade.

Yemen imports 90 percent of its food and fuel, and the devastating blockade is not addressed by the ceasefire. Even if the blockade was lifted during of the seven-day truce, the window would not be long enough to meet local demands, as the threat of famine looms.

There has not been any electricity in the capital for the past few months, and due to the scarcity of gas, residents have been trying to conserve as much food as possible, scavenging for survival while trying to dodge the daily bombs.

The Road to Sanaa

Businesses such as restaurants and cafes have been forced to close, and with growing numbers of people out of work, we have all been making cutbacks and started rationing.

Prices, meanwhile, have skyrocketed. Chicken, which was once eaten at every dinner table, is now eaten once a week – and other meats even less so.

We, the Yemeni people, have tried to band together and put on a brave face, but life is not normal at all.

We’re exhausted, and you can see it on the streets. Sanaa’s once-beautiful streets are now littered with broken glass and destroyed buildings.

Daily life is a struggle for survival, with most of us just trying to make it through to the next day.

The situation is so desolate that it’s common to hear some people say they wish an air strike would end their misery. That’s why a simple and temporary ceasefire, with no larger breakthrough, has not changed the morbid mood on the streets of Yemen.

Follow Faisal Edroos on Twitter: @FaisalEdroos

Source: Al Jazeera