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Helping people with disabilities to fight the scourge of war in Yemen

A person sitting on a wheelchair holding a baby with a red car packed on the side

Ali Suef Ali Delb sitting on his wheelchair with his daughter

Ali Suef Ali Delb sitting on his wheelchair with his daughter

In 2015, it was bad enough to be an internally displaced person fleeing your hometown. But being a person with a mobility disability running off with three family members, aged one month to sixty years, is unimaginable. This was the case of Ali Suef Ali Delb, a 43-year-old disabled man from Aden in the south of Yemen.

The ongoing armed conflict in Yemen has had deadly consequences for both civilians and infrastructure. After five years, 80 percent of the entire population is in need of some form of humanitarian aid and protection, while 3.6 million people have been internally displaced, and only half of the health facilities across the country are fully functional.

Ali had to flee his house in Dar Saad district due to an escalation of fighting. “Fleeing was so hard,” says Ali. “I felt worried about losing all our possessions, but I knew it was the best decision.” Ali’s family survived that fight and settled in Sheikh Othman district.

War makes life unbearable for everyone, but the impact of the conflict on people with disabilities is magnified further. They face compounded difficulties in fleeing violence as family members may help them escape or leave them behind. They also face many barriers related to accessing health services, humanitarian aid, education and livelihoods opportunities, and adequate living conditions.

During his displacement, Ali didn’t have enough money to support his family. Some aid organisations provided food baskets, but this wasn’t enough, so he started to borrow money from his friends.

When the fighting ended, Ali and his family returned and found their home destroyed. Ali looked for work, but couldn’t find any opportunities due to his disability. “My life was difficult and I had a lot of debts,” he says. “I had no work, but I kept praying to God. Then someone helped me to buy a three-wheel vehicle (locally named toktok), so I started working in goods transportation.”


A person sitting in a red car driver seat with a wheelchair on the side of the car door
Ali inside his taxi

Luckily for Ali, he got the chance to work as a community volunteer in the Emergency Cholera Response project implemented by CARE with funding from Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF). Through the project, 71,396 people in Sheikh Othman and Dar Saad districts benefitted from water and sewage system rehabilitation as well as water trucking, supporting Aden Local Water and Sanitation Corporation, hygiene kit distribution, and hygiene awareness-raising.

Ali’s engagement in the project has improved his life. First he received a training session on hygiene promotion, then he worked to promote best hygiene practices in his community. He also received a monthly incentive of 50 USD per month for six months, which helped him to provide essentials for his family.

“I saved money and bought a taxi. I also paid off all my debts,” he says. “However, my greatest achievement so far is supporting my wife to continue her education. She’ll be in her last academic year soon. I hope she can get a job after graduation.

“I do not have a perfect life, but I certainly have a better one now. Taking one step at a time, I’ll eventually get where I want to be.”

Ali hopes the war will end and that peace will return soon. Like thousands of people with disabilities in Yemen, he wishes people with disabilities could be supported to be stronger. “It is an inexpressible feeling for me that I could give something to society,” he concludes. “We need such projects to make us independent, motivated, engaged, and to change our lives.”

A person sitting holding a baby with a red car packed on the side
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