Thousands of Yemenis are stranded abroad, unable to return home, since Saudi-led coalition forces started bombing the country on March 26. Another 300,000 are internally displaced in Yemen, with little to no help.
Yemenis who were out of the country for medical treatment and other reasons when war broke out in their country, were prevented from returning to their homeland for a whole month, by order of the war coalition on Yemen. The imposed embargo on Yemeni air, land and sea, caused Yemenis to be stranded overseas. With new visa requirements imposed on them by countries that previously welcomed them, and no resources to support them, and an estimated 300,000 people who have been internally displaced, Yemenis are now refugees abroad and refugees in their own country.
From Sana'a, Ali Almurtada explains:
— Ali Almurtada (@AliAlmurtada) March 29, 2015
Arab coalition forces have been pounding Yemen with airstrikes since March 26. Their assault has not been limited to military sites or their main target, Houthi tribal fighters, who took control of Yemen's capital Sana'a from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in January.
There is also massive destruction in the southern port city Aden, where the Houthis have been pushing their response, along with forces loyal to Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saleh stepped down after three decades as president following popular protests in 2011, and handed power to Hadi through a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Saudi Arabia. The same countries are currently bombing Yemen. Saleh still controls most of Yemen's army units and wields influence in the world's poorest Arab country.
In times of conflict people usually seek refuge in neighbouring countries, but oddly Yemenis seek to return home even in times of war. Bassam Hassan tweets:
— Bassam Hassan (@BassamYemen) April 14, 2015
People looking to flee the homeland and others crying to return to it despite the hardship
While there were 10,000 stranded Yemenis according to Yemen Air transport director as quoted by Alaraby Aljadeed, the media has focused mainly on the evacuation of foreigners living in Yemen who were evacuated by their countries, mainly China, Russia and India. However,India stood out as a success story by the amount of evacuation flights it secured Indians stranded in Yemen as well as helping other citizens to safely evacuate from the country.
India has evacuated 4,741 Indians from Yemen – but also 1,947 foreign nationals, from 48 different countries http://t.co/2zEuqPasyA
— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) April 21, 2015
Meanwhile, the world's super power, the United States of America, which is providing logistical and information support for the war on Yemen, left its citizens behind.
As many other countries pull their citizens from Yemen, the United States is telling Americans to try to stick it out http://t.co/75xVke6epz
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) April 22, 2015
Many activists raised awareness about the plight of Yemenis stranded abroad, especially those in Egypt, Jordan and India, who are stuck in airports, or seeking medical treatment with a limited budget that is running out, facing eviction from their accommodations and in the absence of a helpful role by Yemen's embassies abroad.
— Yemen Updates (@yemen_updates) April 4, 2015
— ~ NahNoHa~ (@NuhaSanhani) April 26, 2015
Many stranded Yemenis complained from the lack of support that was given to them from their own Embassy which shut its gates in their faces.
— Osamah Alfakih (@osamahfakih) April 1, 2015
Mazen Al Hebshi speakes about starnded Yemenis on BBC Arabic
— Mazen Al-Hebshi (@MazenAlHebshi) April 7, 2015
France24 ran a report about the stranded Yemenis in Cairo and the hardships they were facing:
مصر ـ يمنيون عالقون بالقاهرة ! http://t.co/UqqLhd89zh
— فرانس 24 / FRANCE 24 (@France24_ar) April 8, 2015
Egypt: Yemenis stranded in Cairo
— Albawaba (@Albawaba_eg) April 26, 2015
With photos and videos, stranded Yemenis collecting signatures to take legal action against the ambassador
— mohammed mahdi (@mohamdmahdi) April 16, 2015
Belquis Alsalami, one of the few who were lucky to flee the country in a charter flight, recounts in detail on her Facebook page the unwelcome experience she and other travellers got, when their plane landed in Amman, Jordan:
حاولنا نتفاهم مع الموظفة الأردنية. ردت علينا بكل وضوح: أنتم غير
مرغوب فيكم في الاْردن!!
قالت: أنتم لاجئين..
ردينا عليها وقلنا: ما فيش أحد مننا الموجودين يشتي يدخل الاْردن.. كلنا معنا فيز إلى دول أخرى.. ومعنا تذاكر طيران من الاْردن إلى جهات أخرى (دبي – لندن- اثيوبيا – الهند – نيوزلندا – أمريكا)
هذه كانت الجهات اللي كنا متجهين إليها..
قالوا مافيش نزول من الطيارة خااااااااااااالص
We tried to reason with the Jordanian employee.
She replied clearly: You are unwanted in Jordan
We asked: Why?
She said: You are refugees..
We replied: None of us here wants to go into Jordan..We all have visas to other countries..and we have air tickets from Jordan to other destinations (Dubai, London, Ethiopia, India, New Zealand< USA)…These are the destinations we were heading to..
They said no coming off this plane at alllllllll
Hisham Al-Omeisy describes the ordeal further, saying the passengers were held in the plane for seven hours:
#PT My cousins, mostly women & children were not allowed to leave plane in Amman Jordan for 7hrs & surrounded by army, then given temp pass.
— Hisham Al-Omeisy (@omeisy) April 26, 2015
— Rasha Jarhum (@RashaJarhum) April 25, 2015
In Yemen, more than 300,000 people have been forced to leave their homes, fleeing to other cities or into villages, staying with relatives or acquaintances seeking refuge from the violence, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Data compiled by OCHA as of 28 April shows that the number of people displaced by the escalating conflict in the 19 governorates has increased significantly. Humanitarian partners had estimated that at least 150,000 people were displaced as of 17 April but that number has now more than doubled. Available data shows that governorates with the highest numbers of those displaced include Hajjah, Al Dhale’e and Abyan.
Bushra Aldukhainah, a humanitarian coordinator for Care Yemen, learned first-hand what it's like to be an Internally Displaced Person (IDP). She writes in the Guardian:
I never thought I would know what it’s like to be an internally displaced person, but I do now. Working at Care, I am usually the one helping displaced people but almost two weeks ago, after air strikes began in Yemen, my family and I felt the fear and pain of suddenly having to gather your things, leave your home and run for your life.
Refugees in Djibouti & Somaliland:
Many Yemenis have been seeking refugee in other poor neighbouring countries that welcomed them. International Organisation for Migration reported that total arrivals from Yemen to the Horn of Africa, including to Djibouti, Somaliland and Puntland, have increased by 8,344 people this week. This brings the total since conflict escalated in mid March to an estimated 10,263 people.
To save his mother, wife and two children, Fairuz left one son behind while escaping sniper bullets in the port city of Aden, in war-torn Yemen.
Fairuz, a carpenter by trade describes his escape:
To save five lives is better…,” he recalls shouting to Adeeb from a neighbour’s house they were visiting when the attack began, begging him to run.
“I’m worried that my son is there now and afraid of the bullets,” he says. “The shooting was all day and all night. You cannot describe how strong the sound of bombs and missiles was.
— UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) April 25, 2015
Many Yemenis voiced their discontent with the lack of empathy and humanitarian support for Yemeni refugees abroad, who had no choice to return home.
Rich countries to the north and east, yet Yemeni refugees fleeing to Somalia and Djibouti http://t.co/hG75Mthf7F
— Abubakr Al-Shamahi (@abubakrabdullah) April 10, 2015
— Hisham Al-Omeisy (@omeisy) April 10, 2015
Shame on the world! Trying to “save” Yemen by supplying arms but no country is extending visas or housing abroad IDPs, or refugees
— Sama'a Al-Hamdani (@Yemeniaty) April 26, 2015