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Al-Dhale'e IDPs flee conflict to find protection and food

A man and two children sitting on a motorcycle in front of a tent

Nabil Saleh and his family with his recent bought motorbike in the displaced persons camp in Al-Dhalee city, Yemen. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

Nabil Saleh and his family with his recent bought motorbike in the displaced persons camp in Al-Dhalee city, Yemen. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

In Yemen, over 20 million people suffer from malnutrition and are in need for food assistance. The civil war and currency collapse are exacerbating the situation. Continuous increases in the price of food items, medical supplies and fuel have been reported across the southern region, with prices for basic food items estimated to have seen an increase by 60 per cent.  The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the spread of epidemics of other diseases such as cholera have led Yemen into being recognized as one of the worst humanitarian crises.

The situation in northern Al-Dhalee governorate, in south-western Yemen, remains highly unpredictable and volatile, with ongoing fighting in multiple locations significantly affecting humanitarian access and response. Because of the escalating hostilities, humanitarian needs have increased primarily due to large-scale displacements.

“My husband and my sister are disabled and my children are young. I had no choice but to beg after I could not find a job,” says Saeeda, a 54-year-old mother of six. “Every day I think about how I can put some food on the table for my children and family. Until it seemed as if help came from heaven through the cash assistance CARE gave us and that helped me face all the challenges we’d had because of our life in displacement.” she adds.

Fearing for the lives of her family, Saeeda had fled her village since she felt it was unwise and unsafe to stay any longer. The family’s journey of displacement was arduous as they had traveled through the mountains on foot from their home in the war-torn city of Qataba, as gunfire rang out around them. Luckily, they all survived.

In 2021, CARE, with support from the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA), delivered assistance in Al-Dhale’e governorate aiming to reduce food insecurity and to promote economic recovery in the targeted districts. The project has helped more than 381 families – that is 2,576 individuals – by providing unconditional cash assistance. Each beneficiary received 53,000 Yemeni Riyal (YER) for the first two months and 71,000 YER for four months. This corresponded to the adjusted levels of the minimum rate of a food basket in accordance with the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster which prevailed during the project’s lifetime.

A diverse group of children sitting cross-legged on the floor with two women
Saeeda Ali and her family in the shelter where they live in the displaced persons camp in Al-Dhalee city, Yemen. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

“Cash assistance is so important to us. It’s essential and we depend on it especially since we don’t have any other resources,” says Saeeda.

This assistance has meant Saeeda and others like her have been able to buy food items so critical for those who have become displaced and sought refuge at the IDP camp in Al-Dahle’e city.

“In total I was able to receive cash assistance in six installments which helped me meet the needs of the family, and we now eat three meals instead of two,” says Nabil Saleh Nagy, 48, father of 5, displaced from his family home in the north of Al-Dhale’e.

In Al-Dhale’e camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), people like Nabil Saleh, work to try and diversify their sources of income and become more self-reliant and to minimize the hardships that displacement brings to them. They seek to turn this into an opportunity to change their reality, especially to meet their food needs and to provide protection for their families.

“I used the cash to buy basic food items for my family. The assistance has helped me do that. I was excited to be able to start my own business of selling scrap metal to support my family and shortly after, I was able to buy a motorbike to work on transporting passengers and goods. This really helps me make sure I can continue to take care of myself and my family and remain independent,” he adds.

a man standing in a room with a sleeping mattress on the floor
Saleh Massad Al-Sabry in his room with the medication that helps his treatment, IDP camp in Al-Dhalee city, Yemen. Photo: Bassam Saleh / CARE

Saleh Massad’s story is heartbreaking, but not rare among those who have had to flee their homes due to insecurity. “I was part of a whole village fleeing the war,” he states, “Families were leaving everything they had just to save their lives. I’ve seen people die under the rubble of their homes because of the bombing.”

Saleh’s suffering didn’t end when he arrived at the IDP camp in Al-Dhale’e. His health deteriorated and he became bedridden and was unable to move. His savings ran out due to treatment costs, leaving him struggling with disease and hunger.

“Hunger has become a member of my family who does not leave my side. We struggle daily to provide one meal a day for my seven family members. This situation scared me,” he says.

“The cash assistance came on time after I lost hope of any help. I bought what the family needed for food,” says Saleh. “My family are able to have three meals a day, and we gather together to eat. This has made me feel the blessing of God.”

The families of Saeeda, Nabil and Saleh have found refuge in Al Dhale’e, but they hope to return to their villages one day, when peace prevails so that their children can go to school and the parents can go back to working on their farms without hearing the sounds of gunfire above their heads.

Throughout 2021, CARE responded to multiple crises in Al Dhale’e Governorate despite a very challenging operating environment, given that the region is in close proximity to conflict zones making it difficult to access as well as with the continuous flow of displaced persons from surrounding areas. Through its interventions, CARE has been able to work towards reducing malnutrition among the communities it serves and to help families protect themselves so that they are able to stand on their feet again while being away from their homes.

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