It was summer and very hot in the small village of Moza’a on the coast of Al Makaah in Yemen. Temperatures were as high as 40 degrees. Thirty-three years old Nasser Dassen and his wife, two children, mother and two sisters did not see the sunshine though. They were hiding in a small room underneath their basement. Air crafts were hovering in the sky. Their house was shaking vigorously. Air crafts and battleships were bombing their village and surroundings continuously, and everything seemed like it was crumbling around them. Nasser was terrified, but he knew he needed to be strong for his family. Nasser was walking across the room and his brain kept going round and round in circles, trying to find a way to flee the village. Too many ways, too many questions were running through his head. He asked himself “if we go east, is it safer? Or maybe south is better?” All of the sudden there was complete silence. The sound of explosions and aircrafts stopped. Nasser looked at his wife. “This is our only chance. We need to flee the village now,” said his wife, Samia.
Over 3 million people in Yemen have been displaced from their homes since the beginning of the conflict three years ago. About 20.7 million people need urgent assistance – millions do not have enough to eat, no safe drinking water, and no roof over their heads.
At 2:30 in the afternoon, Nasser and his family fled from their house. They could not take anything with them and only left with the clothes they were wearing. They walked for five hours, then they managed to get into a car. They had to pay 35,000 Yemeni Rial (US$100). They headed to the city of Al-Makaah, where everyone was heading as it was the closest and the safest place to go. They stayed in one of the many tents in which thousands of other displaced people from the village had already found refuge. The pain and sadness was written in everyone’s faces. Each one of them had a different story of how they fled the village. Some lost their family members, some lost their houses. All of them were shocked at how quickly one moment could change their entire lives.
Nasser’s story is a common one for families who live in the city of Al Makaah in Yemen. When the war started, Al Mouza’a moved to the frontline for airstrikes and ground fighting. Most of its residents departed and the village is now abandoned. Many lost their savings, houses, family members and their livelihoods and now have to depend on aid.
In spite of such unspeakable pain and loss, people like Nasser continue to hope. “I hope to go back to our old lives, when everything was normal and full of joy,” says Nasser. He and other people from the village of Moza’a who are now displaced in Al Makaah city are getting help to be able to survive the most difficult time of their lives. CARE International in Al Makaah is offering emergency cash assistance to families like Nasser so that they can buy food, rent rooms and pay for urgently needed, often life-saving medicine. They also received hygiene kits and water filters – crucial in a country where more than 800,000 people are suspected to have cholera.
“My six-year-old son Adel had dengue fever and my mother is an old woman who has a cardiac disease. The cash assistance that I received helped me buy them medicine and I was also able to buy food for my family. Sometimes I look at my children and pray to God to give me the strength to be able to provide them a decent life”, Nasser says.
Written by Hind Abbas, CARE Yemen