Any war hurts.
Any conflict is a war on humanity and on the most vulnerable: children first. The poor. The sick, the elderly, the defenseless. Those who are silenced because their voice will never be reported. The animals. The illiterate. Those who live on less than 2 dollars per day. Or even 5. Those who have no documents, lest a passport.
Those who have nothing to sell and can rely only on their legs to run away. Those who cannot escape because there is nowhere to go.
Showing a picture of a blown up body in Europe will be received with a Rest in Peace. But it’s not here, it’s not here with me, close to me, contingent. It does not affect me.
There is a distance. It’s enough to move on.
Any war is not specific, contigent. Until the first bomb drops on your city, your neighbourhood, your house.
Why the war on Yemen hurts.
This war which is not here, close to us, has not made hundreds of thousands of victims (not yet, that is), is taking place in a country which for decades has received so much negative publicity we wonder if there is an equivalent on earth (maybe Afghanistan).
A war which has produced 2.5 million internally displaced who can only move from one village to the next one, to a school turnt into a refugee building in the Capital Sanaá but cannot cross borders.
The war is there, in Yemen. Not close to us. No refugees to kick out of our sacred European territory, our precious soil.
This war which has seen a country waking up one night under the sound of bombs falling from the sky.
Nine-to-One: this is the ratio. Nine countries united against one, the poorest country of the Middle East.
We remember seeing pictures of Ramallah, before the war on Yemen, and say: They seem better off than us.
A country which has always fought hard to reach the end of the day with enough food for the family, the water to find, the disease, the lack of electricity, unemployment, corruption.
This picture was taken in 2006, nine years before the war, in the Capital Sanaá.
© Sandro Rizzato
Enough to look at the pink dress of the girl on the left to understand and to know this was, at some stage, an Eid dress.
Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha being the only two occasions when most of the children receive their new wardrobe for the year. Do not think big: a pair of shoes, a dress and few other things. Chocolates. Pocket money from relatives and for one year they long for the next Eid. In the meantime, the pink dress fades in colour and texture.
Children of Yemen. This is why this war hurts.
To and from the well. And back.
To and from the mosque. And back again.
To and from the charity tank set up and filled by an anonymous benefactor and back again. Till the tank is dry.
To and from the mosque, and back. To and from the well and back.
All under a scorching sun. Every day. So many times a day your legs become your clock: it is always time to move and fetch water.
Sisters of Yemen know no stroll. They work hard. Keep the family running fetching water which is undrinkable, uncookable. Still, keeps the family going.
This is why this war hurts. There has never been enough water to do anything.
Blessed are the monsoons: you can collect water.
With the siege imposed on the country, no gasoline is allowed to enter. No gas can be delivered to cities and villages alike. There has been no electricity since April 2015.
Many have found themselves selling the jewellery of the women in the family to buy a solar panel. Though it does not serve the purpose of cooking.Wood will do the job, if you are lucky to live in the countryside.
To and from the wood, and back.
This is why this war hurts.
I took a taxi, in Sanaá, once. It was Ramadan. I hadn´t had food that day and the driver was surprised I was fasting. It was by chance. I was not lying but he made of a single day of fasting a full month of observance.
When I reached the office, he refused the money and gave me a small copy of the Holy Quran.
‘Take this, please, Sister. And one day, when you return to Europe, tell them we are not all terrorists.’
This is why the war, this war, hurts.
Prior to the conflict, the health system in Yemen was significantly strained, with only three doctors per 10,000 people. Some 14.1 million people now need help to access adequate healthcare as a result of the intensified year of conflict. Lack of supplies, medicines, electricity, fuel for generators, and staff or equipment have caused health services to decline across the country. This is disproportionately affecting under-5 children, pregnant women, and people suffering from chronic diseases – including cancer, hypertension, diabetes. The three main causes of additional deaths among children under-5 are neonatal, diarrhoeal disease, and pneumonia. Health facilities report attending to more than 30,586 injured and 6,427 killed since the escalation of violence in March 2015. Demands and strains on the health sector and on host families are increasing along with the number of people that have fled their homes in search of safety and security
UN Office forthe Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs