Yemen's Khamer town has seen a recent influx of internally displaced people (IDPs) who arrived after fleeing airstrikes and the deteriorating situation in Sa’ada governorate. Many are living with families in Khamer or in rented houses, while others occupy public places such as schools or live in tents on the outskirts of the town.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is running mobile clinics in the area to provide basic health care to the IDPs in Khamer, and is also providing water, hygiene kits, and other non-food items.
The number of IDPs increases every day as the conflict in Yemen escalates. So far, there are more than 2,400 displaced families in Khamer alone. Here, some of them tell their stories:
Mazen Abdu, Khamer, May 25, 2015
Twelve days ago, Mazen Abdu and his wife and three children escaped Sa’ada on his motorbike. The family keeps the motorbike in the classroom where they have lived since they arrived Khamer.
“When the airstrikes were so close from our house, we decided to go to a safer place and leave everything behind,” says Mazen. His only means of escape was the motorbike.
“The five of us traveled from Sa’ada to Khamer on this motorbike. We could only take 10 kilos of flower and a small blanket. Our trip from Sa’ada to Khamer was not easy. We spent two days and one night travelling. We did not have money to stay in a hotel or buy food and, to crown it all, one of the motorbike’s tires was punctured. I was waiting hopelessly in the road with my family until somebody helped me fix it and we continued our way to Khamer. Some good people offered us food and hosted us in their home for the night.”
Mazen’s wife, Um Alia, said that her children were so frightened by the bombings that they lost their appetites and that when, out of desperation, she tried to force her two daughters to eat, they both vomited. “My daughters were terrified by the sound of the bombings and were shivering.”
The family now lives in a classroom in one of Khamer's schools. Some 500 IDP families live in public places, and others live in tents.
“We left everything behind; our home, our neighbors, our life. In fact, I doubt there is life in Sa’ada . . .”
“We had a normal life before the war started. I lost two of my younger brothers in an airstrike. They were at home. This war does not differentiate between army or civilians.
Now, I live with my husband and four children in a tent in Khamer. Life is not easy here, and it gets difficult for us when it rains. We feel cold and cannot sleep. We live a miserable life."