Women as Wartime Heroes! Dalia lost her eyes saving the wounded! Children live knowing they are casualties of war — Innocents are being barraged with Indiscriminate Shelling,
Journalists are at constant risk of being caught in the crossfire, no longer reporting the war, but themselves becoming the story!
16 children from Taiz assured to us that the
(2,935) murders have been committed inTaiz( since2015 to 2016) including 771 children, 490 women, According to the Human Rights and Development Center
the causalities have reached a high record compared to other governorates: 17.929 injured, including 3,799 children, 2,022 women
135 pregnant women were aborted as a result of shelling
48 journalists and media professionals were targeted ..they face 20 forms of violations( according toThe Yemeni National Media Organization)
469 cases of disabilities
Taiz, Yemen – 25 December 2018: Here is besieged Taiz, we stopped on the confrontations’ lines with the Houthi. We were coming from the liberated Aden and Lahj to the governorate that is suffering under the Houthi siege since 2015.
The city, which is known as the cultural capital of Yemen, still resists. It is besieged from the north, east and west, without an exit except the south side. crisis in Taiz is different from other governorates. Houthis surround the city from the top of the mountains around it, as Taiz is surrounded by many huge mountains that are difficult to secure or control.
According to the people we met, the reason for the prolongation of the war in Taiz may be its geographical nature. Siege, sniping, mines and indiscriminate slaying are widespread in the city. The infrastructure is destroyed, and the health sector has been destroyed by 80 percent. It has only 4 hospitals and most of the medical staff are displaced, while the rest are working under sniper fire, and they are subject to be kidnapped at any moment.
The road to the besieged city is not the same as other governorates. The distance from Aden to Taiz exceeds 300 km, which takes at least 6 hours. Along the road there are curves and rugged mountains.
Since the siege of Taiz in March 2015 to 2018, (2,935) murders have been committed, including 771 children, 490 women, and 1,674 civilian men. According to the statistics of the Human Rights and Development Center of Taiz, the causalities have reached a high record compared to other governorates: 17.929 injured, including 3,799 children, 2,022 women, and 12.108 civilian men.
Dr. Hamoud Al-Zeab, president of the Human Rights and Development Center in Taiz, explained that there were 225 mass massacres have been committed, all of which were committed in densely populated residential neighborhoods, popular markets. The most famous of these massacres was Beer El-Basha on October 3rd, 2016. He added that there were 168 deaths between 2015 and 2018 due to kidney failure and lack of therapeutic services, while mine casualties accounted for 292 dead and 317 injured during the three years.
Dr. Hamoud added that Taiz has become the scene of several types of Houthi violations, include torture (26 cases) and enforced disappearance of civilians (542 cases). He pointed out that there were 43 special prisons, besides targeting 48 journalists and media professional, aborting 135 pregnant women as a result of shelling, and there were 469 cases of disabilities and amputations.
According to Dr. Hamoud, 2476 houses and buildings were demolished from a total of 3,891 public and private facilities destroyed as a result of Katyusha attacks, shells and artillery. As a result of this severe humanitarian situation, 7,795 families were displaced, which is the highest rate of displaced persons in Yemen. Also 604 health facilities, were negatively affected.
Children the casualties of war!
Children in Taiz in particular, and Yemen in general, had the largest share of Houthi's oppression. The story of the girl Alaa, 2 years, is an example of this. She is one of youngest victims of indiscriminate bombardment and poor facilities in destroyed hospitals. Which have become mere empty buildings, without the necessary life-saving medical equipment.
Wissam Abdul Fattah, the father of the girl -who works in a simple job in an electronics shop- recites the story: “On the first of November 2017 at 2 pm, Alaa was playing and crawling at home as usual. A mortar shell hit the house next door; the shrapnel broke the windows and Alaa was hit by shrapnel in the feet”. He continued: “we took her to Al-Thawra Hospital where the doctor decided to perform a leg operation.but the doctor telling us that Alaa needs to amputate her left foot. then We took her to another hospital, where a doctor told us: "Unfortunately, She needs an artery transplant, which will cost one million two hundred thousand riyals."
"We do not have anything. Friends helped us in the hospital as they had to leave their weapons in order to complete the procedure of the operation. The girl was admitted to the operating room. The doctor came out to surprise us saying that the girl was not operated on previously, and that the veins were tied without taking our permission. The doctor tried to save her, but he failed. Last time the doctor decided to amputate her foot in order to preserve the rest of her leg”. The father went on to talk about the suffering under the bombardment, pointing out that there was no water, no electricity, no means of living, and Taiz was and still is suffering from the imposed siege. You cannot leave the house because of the bombing that do not distinguish between the resistance elements and civilians, or between the old and the young. The Houthi prevented even the humanitarian aid from entering the city."
“After my daughter’s accident, I felt helpless as I can’t anything for her, and there is nothing to help me to travel and treat her. The hardest thing is standing helpless before your kids," he added.
War on hospitals
We passed from Gamal Abdel Nasser Street in the city center on our way to Al-Thawra Hospital located in Al-Osaeefra area. It is one of the main hospitals receiving the wounded. Hana Bakr Al-Sweefy, a female employee in the hospital, told us that the hospital is subject to sudden shelling and a large part of it is destroyed. She said with tears in her eyes, “We mourn the young people coming every day from the fronts and they end up dead or disabled. We hope someone would save those young people. This is so unfair."
One of the hospital's supervisors, who refused to be named, said that the doctors are kidnapped like Anwar Al-Sharabi who was kidnapped last February. He was beaten and tortured and the hospital was closed for a while. He pointed out that the building is subject to bombing and the upper floors were destroyed. Only the ground and one floor are left. So, even those trying to save the wounded, are killed.
Inside Al-Thawra Hospital, you can find rooms crammed with beds, modest resources, and hot air without ventilation or cooling, doubling the pain of the wounded waiting for doctors to ease their suffering. But there are hardly any doctors, as The medical staff is too limited during the growing number of injured people everyday.
We met with a number of wounded,inside the hospital, some of them are civilians, and some are soldiers, among them Muhammad Abdullah Al-Mahmoud.
"Amputation cannot end the dream of a human being”. With this sentence, Muhammad Abdullah Al-Mahmoudi, started talking. Al-Mahmoudi lost his legs by shells before he turned 18. He said: “We are a simple family. I was working with my father as temporary labor in a factory near the city. I got a diploma of secretarial and I wanted to complete my education and get a scholarship from abroad to study for my PHD."
"I was shot in my two legs while I was in Tabaat, then I remained without treatment because we were besieged”. He continues: “The injury or amputation of my legs will not be the end of my dreams. I am exerting efforts and submitted my papers to several entities to get a scholarship. We are exposed to indiscriminate shelling over the 24 hours; we spend days without going out to the streets."
Governor of Taiz: The situation is catastrophic
We monitored the situation in Taiz, but we wanted to document also by the talking with Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Governor Dr. Mohamed Amin who affirmed thatThe security situation in the city is very difficult because of its siege on three sides. Only one outlet has been opened between Taiz and Aden, which is very dangerous and difficult.
Here, too, journalists are being killed in cold blood, and the bodies of the victims are everywhere. Every day, not less than 20 people are killed and wounded. There is also a crisis in transportation. Only 10% of the total work is due to lack of petrol and a crisis in Gas,also there is no Electricity since3 years ago and no drinking water.
More than this,80% of the health sector was destroyed, and 90% of the medical staff was displaced by the war, and we currently rely on 4 hospitals, which are shelled while the wounded inside it. Many of the wounded andcivilians die every day because of the lack of operating rooms, medicines and mechanisms.
We are still here in Taiz besieged. The signs of destruction are everywhere. We started from Al-Thawra Hospital in Asifra to the martyrs' tombs, then Taiz University and the archeological museum that were bombed.
The car moved at full speed for fear of being shelled. On the various roads we passed, there were iron barriers and dirt barriers separating the Houthi areas from other areas. We knew from our escorts that the hottest contact areas with the Houthi are Al-Tashreefat, Lozan, Al-Shaab palace, Al-Shaqb in Mount Sabra, Al-Qreefat, and Tabet el Selal.
Woman in Taiz is hero
In Taiz, the role of Yemeni women is evident in many ways. They are nurses treating the wounded in Hospitals under indiscriminate bombardment. They established the Mother of Martyrs Association, which includes many mothers in Taiz to demand the rights of the martyrs.
Here there are dozens of stories heroines from Taiz. This is Dalia Mohammed Abdullah, whom we met. When you first meet her, sadness appears on her face while talking about what she had gone through. She told us: "I was supposed to become a doctor. I graduated of the Faculty of Medicine before the war started..“.
“When The 2015 events started.. We demonstrated peacefully. Then on the sit-ins turned to violent clashes. I was among the crew of paramedics there.”
Dalia continued, “on The 25th of March 2015, the first civilian martyr fell. He was the owner of a street cart selling blueberry juice. I continued to work, to rescue the injured. The last person I rescued was shot with a bullet in the thigh, and while trying to rescue him I was followed to one of the alleys. Those who followed us tried to take the injured person. And there I was shot in the left eye and lost its vision.”
“As if that was not enough for the Houthis, but they pursued my family and within a month I lost 3 members of my family.Then my cousin was sniped in front of her three children. We fled from our homes that were bombed.. "We are living the bitterness of forced displacement, indiscriminate bombing, and pursuits. Only God can help us”, Dalia said.
The suffering of life in Taiz
Mansoura Mohammed, a resident of Al-Shaqab, talks about the hard life under the fire, as the degree of difficulty varies in the contact areas compared to the places relatively remote from engagement areas. She describes how the people dug trenches from the dirt "so we can walk in it in order to escape the bombing, and when we need something necessary we wait till the night to go out hiding from the snipers of the Houthis on the mountains”. She adds: “Our life is very tiring. We can’t work and our children can’t learn.”
Life in trenches
Badr Mahmoud from Taiz, summarizes the difficult living and humanitarian conditions in the contact areas. He says: “There are poor families stuck in the contact areas. They cannot even go out of the houses because they do not have the money. They cannot afford to pay for a taxi. They live in a real tragedy. I know families there that don’t even receive the aid because the Houthis either prevent or loot it”. He adds: “The families there tell us that they cannot go out. They say where to go? We are unable to pay the cost of transportation, and we cannot even rent a single room,We have families and children. We prefer to die and not to see our children being bombed before our eyes if we try to get out of our homes."
Bullets in the houses
"Life under bombardment is difficult and bitter. You expect at any moment not only a missile hitting you or a shell falling on you, even in your house." These words were spoken by Raafat Mubarak, who was shot in the abdomen and chest, inside his house. We met him while he was receiving treatment in a hospital, and he told ushis story in a tired voice: "One day I had dinner with my sons, the windows’ glass closed. After me and children ate the windows’ glass in the hall broke, and I was hit by a bullet in my abdomen”.
In the area of Asifra near Al-Thawra hospital, there is a place surrounded by sorrows from each side. It is facing a number of popular houses on the mountain. These are the graves of martyrs. From there you can see the mountains used by the Houthis as sniper platforms. The place includes dozens of martyrs including recruits, it has a large part devoted to the media professionals and activists and relief workers.
Since the war has begun, the media professionals suffered a wave of violations (killing and injury and torture). 48 media professionals and journalists were the victims of this, according to statistics of the Center for Human Rights and Development in Taiz from 2015 to 2018. While the violations against media professionals for the same period in Yemen in general, amounted to 2101 cases, according to statistics of the National Organization of Yemeni Media.
Since we entered the place, we have received alerts to quickly accomplish our mission because these graves are be bombing, even the families cannot visit the graves of their loved ones. They also pursue them with different weapons.
Najib Qahtani, the media spokesman in Taiz governorate, tells us that Asifra graves were established since the Houthi attack on the city in 2015. It has about 3,000 martyrs. it has the largest number of media professionals. According to the governorates’ statistics the Houthis have killed 5 thousand persons and injured 21 thousand, since the beginning of the war till March 2018. Every day civilians are killed and wounded, including children and women.
Amna: They killed our children
Inside the cemeteries, Amna Yehya, the mother of martyr Mohammed, who was martyred in the battle of Al-Shaqab at the age of 17. She overcame her fear and came to visit her son's grave. all weapons could not prevent her from coming. We found her crying and as soon as she began to talk she started screaming and saying in her authentic Bedouin dialect: "The war killed our children and destroyed our homes. We have nothing now. My neighbor was bombarded in front of my eyes”.
Mother of three martyrs: I trilled!
Among the names on the tombstones we found some names of students of the University of Taiz, who have played an important role in the resistance since the beginning of the war in 2015. They leaving behind lectures, books and their dreams of the future.inside the grave We noticed the names of three brothers, Jawad, Emad and Rashad Ali Hassan.
We asked about their family and we met their mother, Fatema Mohammad, who told us her story, “I had three sons. I dreamed of them getting married and having children. But since the war has started, all the dreams have been shattered and turned into nightmares.”
She continued, “after war, My sons left the university, his dreams and joined the resistance. Rashad wanted to become a computer engineer. Rashad was wounded byA mine, in November 2016.“I am not sad they are martyrs. I trilled when they were martyred” she spoke, crying.
Martyr Reham Badr
On a marble plaque you find the name of "Reham Badr" among dozens of names we found in the graveyard. Her friend, Ishraq al-Maqtariـ who was with her when she diedـ said, “Reham was martyred on the eighth of last February, with a shell from the eastern front in the area of Al-Karifat., the martyr was active in the humanitarian field, besides her human rights activities.
She was known for helping displaced people in the confrontation areas in Taiz. She provided them with food and living necessities by coordinating with several organizations and volunteers. She also provided humanitarian and relief support to tens of war-affected families in Taiz.
Ishraq continues: "Reham faced the hell of war. She was a member of the Sub-Committee for Relief and the Local Network for Monitoring Violations.
Ishraq added: “She was documenting the names of civilian victims, She was sniped by Houthi who concentrated in Al-Selal Mountain while she was leading an aid convoy to areas near the eastern frontin the area of Sala. This is another proof of Houthi’s violations of principles of humanity, and their breaking of all the international laws which criminalize attacks on civilians”.
The war shattered dreams of Youth inTaiz
Jihad Al-Barihi was among the resistance ranks in Taiz. He was injured three times. Jihad had dreams beyond limits. He decided to apply for a scholarship to study Turkish language abroad, but the warshatteredhis dreams. He told us: "I was student when I was hit by a sniper shot in the head, I lost my right eye, then I was injured in my left hand. However, for the third time I was shot in the right leg, which resulted in its amputation below the knee”.
Jihad resumes his story, while looking bitterly to the injured parts of his body: "I have friends thatwe were separated by death. Many of them died in my hands, while I was screaming: we will avenge you.”.
violations against journalists
The journalists and media professionals had a fair share of the war's violations . In the martyrs' graves, we found the names of a number of photographers and journalists targeted by the Houthi snipers while performing their duties in conveying facts of the war to the world. This urged us to consider the file of violation against the media, which included several forms. Dr. Muammar Alـ Eryani, Yemeni Minister of Information, said: Media professionals and photographers suffer from the scourge of war, they face the worst wave of persecution since 2015. The Yemeni National Media Organization has documented 20 types of violations in Yemen from 2015 to 2018, ranging between 22 murders, 30 cases of attempt murder, 141 cases of abduction, 33 injuries, as for torture and physical assault they amounted to 109 cases, in addition to 90 cases of persecution. Also 544 journalists were displaced as a result of the destruction of 54 press and media institutions.
He added that the Houthis refuse any mediation or negotiation for the release of journalists. He refers to the case of journalist Yousef Aglan who was arrested for a year and a half, and came out suffering from diseases and memory problems, in addition to problems in the back.
Wael al-Absi, who was killed at the age of 27 years, was a photographer for the Yemen channelinTaiz. His friend Badr al-Din Mohammed told us that he was in love with a girl and proposed to her shortly before his death. His wedding was due the following month, but he was killed when he was covering the battles in eastern front
Among the media martyrs is Taqi al-Din al-Huthifi. His colleague Mohammed al-Haddadi told us that the martyr used to tell his colleagues in Taizuniversity:” I will be Mahathir Muhammad of Yemen. I will improve the economic profile of my country”.
Al-Hadadi added that the martyr was covering the events to the some news channels, one day he went out to cover a battle in the eastern front with Walid al-Qudsi, the cameraman with Al-Yemen channel. in the meantime the Houthisshot them and they were all killed, except Walid Al-Qudsi who had his foot amputated.
Guardians of Blood Association
In continuation of the role of Yemeni women in the war, Dr. Khadija Abdul Malek formed the Association of Mothers of Martyrs or Guardians of Blood as they name it. The association includes in its membership more than 80% of the mothers of the martyrs. Dr. Khadija talks about the goals of the association: "It was formed because we want the rights of our children who were martyred. I am the mother of a 19-year-old martyr. He was a student in the third grade and the results of his exams were out after his martyrdom in 2016”.
She continued: “I found that martyrs didn’t get all of their rights. The most prominent of our demands is the allocation of salaries to the families of martyrs. We also demand the numbering of civilian casualties, as there are undocumented victims”.
Children of Taiz under indiscriminate bombing
Children in Taiz also have a share of the heroic stories. It is enough that they live, play and walk to their schools every day under the bombardment. we interviewed with more than 16 children, who assured that they live while are knowing that they are casualties of war , and they are being barraged with Siege, sniping, mines and indiscriminate shelling, so death is their inevitable fate.
Mayada Oud, a student in the third preparatory grade, said, “Sometimes they bombard schools, and we feel afraid while going to school. The Houthis throw the shell at any time, and sometimes we hear the sound of the bombardment, so we run to hide, I saw friends of mine die.I wish that we can live safely”.
Rabia Mahgoub, in the first preparatory grade, says, “We hear the sound of bombardment all the time and we see people dying in front of us. One day we go to school and the other day we don’t.”
Sabri Adel said, “Last Friday I was playing with my cousin and my brother, we were hit by a shell and my brother died in the hospital. Now I am afraid that my cousin might die, as well.”
“I was playing with my friends in the school’s playground and a shell killed them all,” SalhaTafi, student in the fourth primary grade said. “I went to the hospital and I recovered, and now I stopped playing in the playground.”
The child, Omar Abdul Wahid, 12 years old, took off his clothes to show us his abdomen with shrapnel marks. He described the violation he was subjected to, saying, “I have shrapnel in my abdomen, and went to the hospital, but now I am ok. This is now normal, and many of us have scars in their bodies.”
Omar says,”I was working in the graveyard. One day a shell hit us; I was injured along with many other people”.
Mohamad, a 10 year-old, says, “I was going to the store to buy sweets, and then I heard the sound of bombardment and found my leg bleeding. I felt numb afterwards. I woke up to find myself in a hospital with my father who told me that a shell hit me. I have panic attacks all the time.
Martyr painter, Mushtaq Al-Amari
Mother of a martyr establishes Guardians of Blood Association
Children of Taiz and stories of indiscriminate bombing
Sabri Adel said, “Last Friday I was playing with my cousin and my brother, we were hit by a shell and my brother died in the hospital. Now I am afraid that my cousin might die, as well.”
This article is part of a series of articles on Yemen by Eman Hanna.Hanna has taken a 30-day trip to monitor the suffering of the people during the war .