“I now know the true meaning of being displaced and in need”As the conflict in Yemen rages on, thousand of persons have been killed, hundreds of thousands others remain displaced - with those internally displaced reaching over one million. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is among the few humanitarian agencies within Yemen that have continued to assist those affected by the conflict. This has largely been possible through our national staff based in Yemen who have sacrificially continued to assist those affected by the ongoing violence. One of our staff members here shares her own story with us.
Horn of Africa, Relief work
Saher Alnajar, 25 years old, has been working with DRC as a Protection/Capacity Building Assistant for the last one and a half years. She was living in Aden with her four sisters and one brother when the current wave of conflict began in Yemen in mid-March 2015.
“I have spent a lot of time working with persons displaced by armed conflict in Abyan and I have heard their stories time and again but I would never have imagined that the experience would be this horrible; until I became a victim of displacement. Since the conflict started, I have now learned the cost of conflict and how it affects your life so deeply,” says Saher.
She and her family have had to endure gruesome nights and days of heavy shelling especially because her home town of Aden has received a fair share of the shelling and bombing.
“The constant shelling and bombings have been the scariest experience so far, especially because our house is located at the entrance of Aden city where most of the fighting has been taking place. I have witnessed many dead bodies along the streets and had to endure long sorrowful periods where children and women were screaming in fear because of the shelling,” adds Saher.
The continuing conflict has resulted in scarcity of food supplies and limited access to clean water which is contributing to a dire food security situation. At the same time, many families like Saher’s are forced to contemplate risky coping mechanisms in order to survive in the current situation.
“My brother has on a number of occasions had to venture out into the city in search of food for us. This always makes me so scared and I have had sleepless nights getting worried about him each time he goes out because many people have been shot by snipers. A number of people have been randomly shot on the streets after they left their houses in search of food or medicine,” says Saher.
Saher like many other Yemenis and other nationalities caught up in the conflict have also found themselves in situations where they are displaced internally more than once because of the conflict. When the shelling got so intense in Aden, Saher and her family decided to seek safety in the neighbouring town of Tai’iz.
“Our journey to Tai’iz was full of challenges. We encountered on a number of occasions road blocks manned by the al-Houthis and we had to turn back but we succeeded to reach Tai’iz. Unfortunately, our stay there was short because soon after we were forced to be on the run again due to the heavy shelling and bombing which was much stronger and indiscriminate than in Aden. There was also no access to hospitals and we had to share a small house with two other families where we were staying. It was so difficult for us and totally undignifying,” Saher says.
Saher and her family were able to escape to Sanaa’ and are currently living there despite the continuing conflict. She remains hopeful that the conflict will end but her experience has changed her perspective about conflict and displacement.
“The conflict has really reshaped my thinking about conflict and the work I do. Now that I have experienced war first hand, it makes me want to be a peacemaker and to be a promoter of peace. It has also helped me to appreciate the opportunity I have through DRC to help others. I have found and experienced the true meaning of help and I wish to be able to reach out to all communities affected by conflict through DRC’s work,” says Saher.
DRC has been present in Yemen since 2008 and supports children, families and communities affected by conflict with shelter, protection, food and livelihood initiatives.