"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.

We got up on 27th and read the news as usual. Suddenly we saw that an Arabian coalition led by Saudi Arabia had attacked the Yemeni capital Sana’a. We immediately called our children in Sana’a who confirmed the news and the heavy air attacks. They were fine, thank God. We then tried to get the travel agent to push for our flights back, but the answer we got was that the airport in Sana’a was damaged and there were no flights to Yemen any more. 

This news shocked us deeply. Slowly we realised that we would be stuck in India. Our hope to return back to our home vanished quickly.

We had no alternative but to try to live with the tragedy. All we could to was to call our children from time to time to make sure the were safe and to give them advice and guidance. Moreover we needed to be updated about the attacks in our country.

As the attacks increased so did the risk to stay in Sana’a. Our kids decided to escape to the village and I allowed my son Sam to drive the car the long distance. But in the village the situation wasn’t as good as we had thought as many families from different cities had fled to the same village. There wasn’t enough water, food or cooking gas. There was literally nothing to live from. When the truce was announced in the middle of May, our children fled back to Sana’a thinking that this truce was the start of the end of those crazy attacks.



Photo: Kareem Zaray

Now imagine our feelings being thousands of miles away from our children, stuck in India. We felt as if we were in the biggest jail in history. We were run out of all the money we had in mid April and there was no way to go back to Yemen from anywhere in the world - while our embassy seemed to be sleeping and helpless. We felt that we were left to our fate and the Saudi king’s decision. I managed to get some money from my European friends who were constantly in touch with me. But we were forced to travel from one state to a cheaper one to survive because there was no light at the end of the tunnel. 

My story is only one of about 8000 Yemenis hung up in India. The majority of them were there for medical reasons, some were treated for cancer and other major diseases. However, I realised that all Yemenis I met in all the states I visited insisted on flying back to our country to die there. And while I somehow managed to handle my stay, the majority of my hung up fellows suffered heavily and all of them were against the barbarian attacks that is destroying our country. Nevertheless they never lost their dignity, never lost their hope to be able to go home.        

Photo: Kareem Zaray

Finally, after international pressure on the Saudi regime increased, the Saudis allowed all Yemenis stuck abroad to return to Yemen with Yemenia airline, our national airline. For that we had to transfer all tickets we had booked through different airline agencies to Yemenia and on top of that pay an additional transfer fee. After demonstrating in our consulate I could get a booking for May 26th. 

I will never forget the moment we reached our damaged airport in Sana’a and met our families, our relatives and friends. Because at that moment there happened another explosion - IT WAS AN EXPLOSION OF TEARS.


Photo: Kareem Zaray


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