Yemen: Thousands of internally displaced families are struggling to survive

With the temperatures plummeting in Yemen, thousands of internally displaced families are struggling to survive another harsh winter in the devastating and protracted civil war.

Crowding in their tattered tents, refugees at the Dharawan camp, which is located in the northern suburb of Sanaa, are completely at mercy of the winter’s coldness.

“We have been living in this camp for four years. Each winter, we suffer greatly from the cold. This winter, some of the children and elders got sick and we were unable to provide them with proper treatment. So they died,” Fawzia Nasser, a displaced woman and mother of twelve children, said.

The mother and her family all live inside a tent that can hardly protect them from the freezing winds. Three of her sons are also sick, but no one came to help them.

Located at the center of the Yemen Highlands, Sanaa is colder than most parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Its winter, especially at night, can be tough for those who have no roof above them.

Seventy-year-old Mohammad Hussein moved with his wife and eight children to the Dharawan camp in 2015 and is one of the longest residents of the refugee camp.

He said he had given up all hope as the civil war stretched endlessly and living conditions in the camp worsen year after year.

“I am an old man who lost his home. All I have is inside a broken tent. My children are starving and shivering in cold. I have no hope for life,” the old man lamented.

When arriving here, most of the refugees thought they finally found safety and shelter. However, as the war drags on, what was supposed to be a makeshift shelter for over 500 internally displaced families gradually become a permanent slum, where the refugees waited futilely in destitution and squalidness.

The displaced families here lack clothes, blankets, drinking water, food, medical care, shoes, and milk for their children. Many of them sleep hungry on the cold floor, which caused them to develop severe frostbite.

“In summer, there are heavy rains and contagious diseases. In winter, we have frostbite and more diseases,” said Hussein, the elderly refugee. “There is never an end to our suffering.”

Yemen has been mired in civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi group seized control of much of the country’s north and forced the Saudi-backed government out of the capital Sanaa.

Years of cruel civil war caused what the United Nations called the biggest humanitarian crisis on Earth. It is estimated a quarter of the country’s population, or over 4 million, have been displaced in the course of the war.

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