Ahmed and his family in front of the shelter he built. Photo: Action Against Hunger, Yemen
As Yemen enters its fourth year of war, 22 million people ─ more than 80 percent of the population ─ are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Nearly 10,000 people have lost their lives and millions of others have been uprooted as a result of the conflict between Al Houthi forces and government forces supported by an international coalition. The conflict has contributed to the collapse of the economy and basic services, as well as an elevated risk of famine and a massive cholera epidemic. Today, living conditions in Yemen are tougher than ever, and more than 8.4 million people are on the brink of starvation. Learn more here.
Our emergency response teams make their way through internally displaced persons’ settlements to provide help to those that urgently require it. As soon as a critical situation is brought to their attention, they set off to evaluate and respond to needs within 10 days.
On a visit in Al-Garrahi district, located in Hodeïda, our emergency response team met Ahmed in front of his makeshift shelter that he built by hand out of sticks and straw. At 30 years old, he and his family fled their home in the Al-Mukka district along with hundreds of others, leaving behind their land and livelihoods.
“The time before we moved out were filled with very dark nights when we could not see anything,” said Ahmed. “All we could hear were loud explosions close to our village. The fighting was getting closer to us and, every night, my wife and I found it more and more difficult to get our children to go sleep. They were petrified by the sounds of exploding shells. Sometimes, we turned on the radio to take their minds off what was happening around us or we listened to music on the phone. Other nights, we told them stories and tales from long ago. All of this comforted them and helped them forget the situation.”
As the conflict raged, Ahmed and his wife saw their friends and neighbors flee their village for safer areas. Eventually, they made the same decision: to leave their home in order to keep themselves and their six children from harm.
“My wife and I left to save our lives and those of our children. Our youngest was only a few months old.”
“When we arrived in Al-Garrahi, I rented this plot of land and built this shelter to protect us,” says Ahmed. “It is really difficult to find work. We have been here nearly over a month now and I still haven’t found anything.”
Originally a motorbike mechanic, Ahmed ended up buying a motorbike to transport people and deliver items – the family’s main source of income in Al-Garrahi. His wife also collects and resells plastic bottles for additional funds. But as Ahmed points out, “price fluctuations and the high cost of fuel makes our income volatile and unreliable. There is no reason to be ashamed for holding out your hand and asking for help.”