Articles in Category: Jemen

"Airstrike just hit, house and myself shaking..."

Written by Helene Aecherli on Tuesday, 05 December 2017. Posted in Jemen

Stop the War in Yemen

Women as Symbols of Hope

on Monday, 17 April 2017. Posted in Jemen

Paintings by Yemeni artist Mazher Nizar

"Motherland Yemen" by Mazher Nizar


That art catches my attention and stirs emotions I cannot really grasp, happens rarely to me. It is like falling in love: You cannot explain it, but you know when it is there. And then it makes you dizzy, it moves you and doesn’t get off your mind.
Such were my reactions when I discovered the paintings of India-born Yemeni artist Mazher Nizar - will say, his paintings of women. 

"Why I went back to a war zone"

on Tuesday, 15 November 2016. Posted in Jemen

War in Yemen

Layla M. Asda (26) and her family wanted to escape the war in Yemen. They wanted to live in safety. So they said goodbye to their country and went to Malaysia. But in Kuala Lumpur they just lived the war from abroad, which was even worse as they were safe while their loved ones were not. And then their longing for their country, their people, their house and the smell of the earth in Sana'a after the rain became overwhelming. "I discovered that there is a stronger feeling than fear", says Layla. "It's the urge to get the feeling of belonging back."
After eight months in safety they returned to Yemen. They went home to a war zone. Here Layla gives a gripping account of their journey. 

The Yemeni capital Sana'a is a war zone. But it keeps mesmerising its inhabitants. And the rainbow is a symbol of hope. Photo: Essam Al-Kadas 

Salt for Sewing Machines

Written by Helene Aecherli on Friday, 18 March 2016. Posted in Jemen

Support the Yemeni people

The war in Yemen started almost exactly one year ago. It has caused a humanitarian disaster that is comparable to the one in Syria - only that the war in Syria has been going on for five years. The war in Yemen however hasn't caught widespread international attention, the suffering of the people, the destruction of the social fabric and the infrastructure of the country happen basically off radar.

But - regardless of how devastating the war is: There is life and there are aims. The beautiful baskets filled with fleur du sel from the Yemeni island Socotra are signs of it. They are made by Boshrah and her friends in the village Al Nuzhah. Boshrah is the sister of a dear friend of mine in Sanaa. The salt is distributed by a women's cooperation on Socotra. I sell the baskets and the salt to fund a sewing project in the village Al Nuzhah. The project will help young women to achieve basics skills and to build a future. 

"Stop gambling with our lives!"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Sunday, 20 September 2015. Posted in Jemen

War in Yemen

The situation in the war torn country has become apocalyptic and, after a frantic bombing campaign, there is still an all all out ground war looming over the capital Sana’a. Meanwhile within the UN Human Rights Council the Netherlands push for a neutral, international inquiry on Yemen.

Destroyed houses in the historical Old Sana'a. Photo credit: General Organization for the Preservation of the historical Cities in Yemen GOPHCY

Fighter jets hover over the Yemeni capital, and the airstrikes and bombs fuse into a traumatic cacophony that goes on sometimes for minutes, sometimes for as long as 32 hours, causing incessant loops of fear, sleep deprivation, destruction and death. And an increasing awareness dawns upon the three million inhabitants that there is also a cat-and-mouse game going on, a terribly distorted one, leaving the city on the brink of collapse.

"It's raining missiles. A nightmare that refuses to end!"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Tuesday, 21 July 2015. Posted in Jemen

Yemenis write about the war in their country

Yemenis want to be heard. They need to be heard. Thus I have asked Yemeni friends of mine, men and women, to tell their stories, to give a personal account of their experiences of the war in Yemen and to send me pictures that illustrate their texts. I will post them here on this website, one by one. I hope their writing will have an impact.

Layla M. Asda (26) is doing her Master in International Development and Gender at the university of Sana'a. She is ready to take her country forward. But she is stranded in the war. As million of other young Yemenis. In her  text she gives a painfully detailed account of how the war affects her and her country. And she appeals to the war faring fractions to realise that there is no point of waging wars. It only creates destruction, hatred and the urge for revenge.

 

 

 

“It’s raining!” I felt happy because “rain is what I adore”, I thought to myself as I heard the sounds of thunder. Yes, it turned out to be rain - but a different kind of rain: It was raining missiles!

"There was an explosion of tears"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Thursday, 16 July 2015. Posted in Jemen

Yemenis write about the war

Yemenis want to be heard. They need to be heard. Thus I have asked Yemeni friends of mine, men and women, to tell their stories, to give a personal account of their experiences of the war in Yemen and to send me pictures that illustrate their texts. I will post them here on this website, one by one. I hope their writing will have an impact.
 
Jamil Al Faqih, a business man from Sana'a and father of three children, describes in his account how it was to be stuck in India when the war in Yemen broke loose.
 

 

This is the story that happened to me and my wife during our medical trip to India. After my wife had been sufferring from a spinal illness for three years we decided to travel to India to get a treatment based on the recommendations of some friends. We flew on March 17th 2015 leaving behind our three children: Yasmin 21, Sam 17 and Mazen 10 years. We were supposed to fly back on the 31st of the same month.

"What will you do when this war ends?” - “LIVE!”

Written by Helene Aecherli on Thursday, 09 July 2015. Posted in Jemen

Yemenis write about the war

Yemenis want to be heard. They need to be heard. Thus I have asked Yemeni friends of mine, men and women, to tell their stories, to give a personal account of their experiences of war and to send me pictures that illustrate their texts. I will post them here on this website, one by one. I hope their writing will have an impact.
 
The third account of this series is written by Samia Al-Ansi (36). She works in the humanitarian sector as a country logistics manager in Sana'a. And one day she might be a writer of short stories. Her text below gives you a taste of her talent.
 

 

"I have lived in my own bubble. My eyes used to be closed during the Arab spring, I didn’t want to face the conflicts that were raging in some cities in Yemen, didn’t want to be confronted with the suffering of the world. I didn’t watch tv and didn’t care about politics. 

“Then you realize that you didn’t have any hallucinations”

Written by Helene Aecherli on Friday, 03 July 2015. Posted in Jemen

Yemenis write about the war

Yemenis want to be heard. They need to be heard. Thus I have asked Yemeni friends of mine, men and women, to tell their stories, to give a personal account of their experiences of war and to send me pictures that illustrate their texts. I will post them here on this website, one by one.

Here is an as impressive as gripping account of the war in Yemen, written by Aiman Al Hakeem (39). He works as a banker in Sana'a. 


Suddenly without any warnings there were explosions everywhere. It was almost 2.30 am on the 26th of March 2015. I didn’t know what's going on. I opened my mobile phone to find out and saw a message from my group of friends stating that the Saudi Air Force had destroyed Sana’a’s international airport. 

Being Under Attack

Written by Helene Aecherli on Sunday, 28 June 2015. Posted in Jemen

Yemenis write about the war

In Yemen rages an erratic multilateral war that has so far killed over two thousand people. 22 million, 80 percent of the population, are lacking food, water and basic health care; a humanitarian disaster which is worsened by a naval blockade imposed by the Saudis to cut off arms supplies to rebel forces. The Geneva peace talks that were held last week brought no result. 
However the war in Yemen hardly rarely gets into the headlines of international media. It is off the radar of international attention.
But Yemenis want to be heard. They need to be heard. Thus I have asked Yemeni friends of mine, men and women, to tell their stories, to give a personal account of their experiences of war and to take pictures that illustrate their texts. I will post them here on this website, one by one.
I hope their writings will have an impact.
 
Yemeni men and women waiting to get water. Photo: Abdo Ramadan
 
 The first account is by Abdo Ramadan, a business man from Sana'a:
 
It is not easy to describe how life has turned upside down since March 26th 2015. Words are not enough to reveal the sufferings we endure as a family that lives in the Yemeni capital Sana’a under the attacks of missiles and bombs as a daily exercise. During each attack we expect death by a missile that smashes our lovely roof taking its way to take our souls. 
 

"Everything is collapsing"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Saturday, 13 June 2015. Posted in Jemen

War in Yemen

 

Picture by Abdo Ramadan


When I woke up to the news last Friday that five houses in the Old City of Sana'a had been allegedly hit by a Saudi led coalition airstrike and turned into ashes and rubble, it felt, as if I had been hit myself. The Saudis were quick to deny the claims and blamed the Houthi rebels for the collapse of the buildings. But whether it were the Saudis, the Houthis or both: The strike killed at least six people and destroyed houses that had been some of the jewels of Islamic-urban landscape, breathing 2500 years of Yemeni history. And I repeat: I felt as if I had been hurt myself.

"The silence of the world kills us more than the missiles"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Tuesday, 05 May 2015. Posted in Jemen

Stop Bombing Yemen!

Yesterday night one of my best friends in Sanaa sent me an email that lists the disastrous consequences of the Saudi bombing of Yemen. He asked me to send his list to as many media outlets as possible. He wrote to me: "You should know one thing: We are not afraid of being killed by the attacks. We are afraid of hunger and losing dignity. And in the end the silence of the world kills us more than the missiles of the coward powers."

Here is his list:

"Women are always the compromised card in political struggle"

on Thursday, 26 February 2015. Posted in Jemen

The Taliban of Yemen - Coup d'état in Yemen

Nadia Al-Sakkaf, former Minister of Information in Yemen, writes about the situation of women in the new ruling Houthi council.  And the situation is alarming: "The Houthis brush the political achievement of Yemeni women aside as if it was a mistake", she says.  In times of conflict and war women's rights are among the first to be cut. They are the "low hanging fruit". But it's high time to acknowledge that without the active participation of women in society and politics, there will never be peace and stability.

 

Nadia Al-Sakkaf

A new violent religious movement known as Houthis which has taken over Yemen’s capital and many of its northern governorates across five months, announced a constitutional declaration on February 6, 2015. The early signs of the Houthi rule are alarming when it comes to human rights but especially for women.

Brautschau im Jemen

Written by Helene Aecherli on Wednesday, 19 November 2014. Posted in Jemen

Ahmed al-Aziz hat zwölfmal geheiratet, ist neunmal geschieden, hat zwanzig Kinder und derzeit drei Ehefrauen. Ginge es nach ihm, so wäre ich seine vierte Frau geworden.

 

 Illustration: Tina Berning

Als wir vor der Villa anhalten, die mein neues Zuhause werden könnte, lässt der Regen allmählich nach. Der nasse Asphalt um uns herum schimmert im fahlen Licht der Dämmerung, die Luft riecht nach Teer und frischer Erde. Es ist 19 Uhr, die Zeit des Maghrib, des Abendgebets, über der jemenitischen Hauptstadt Sanaa liegt eine lethargische Stille.

"Now we have a road to go together"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Monday, 03 November 2014. Posted in Jemen

An hommage to the Yemeni politician Dr. Mohammed Abdul-Malik Al-Mutawakil

He had told me to turn left in the hallway, to walk up the stairs to the first floor and to meet him in his sitting room. He apologized for this - as he felt - rather unsuitable way to welcome a guest, but after he had been hit by a motorbike and been severely injured, he found it difficult to get up and down the stairs. This attack on him had happended about a month before I met him at his house in the Yemeni capital Sana'a in April 2012. He had stepped out into the street after a meeting, it was dark, but the guy on the motorbike aimed deliberately at him and run him down. The guy on the motorbike was never identified. In that night, however, Dr. Mohammed Abdul-Malik Al-Mutawakil, then 73, managed to escape death.

When I came up to the masraf, the sitting room, the sun was just breaking through the colored glass window turning the rows of books on the shelf beneath into a shimmering light. 

 

I remember that I was surprised how quiet it was. There were no generators humming. Electricity must have been on again. Dr. Mohammed Al-Mutawakil sat crouched on the cushions on the floor.