Desperate Yemeni colonel takes own life 'over unpaid salary'

Desperate Yemeni colonel takes own life 'over unpaid salary'
Yemen's ongoing salary crisis is resulting in an increase in suicides, reports say, as people in the war-torn country continue to struggle to provide for their families.
3 min read
23 May, 2017
The war in Yemen has left more than 10,000 people dead [File photo: Getty]

A Yemeni colonel became the latest victim of the country's ongoing liquidity crisis, after he took his own life on Monday, following months of failing to cope with unpaid salaries.

Colonel Saleh Muthana al-Sabbari, originally from Ibb, shot himself inside his own home in the capital Sanaa, local reports said, blaming more than eight months of unpaid salaries in Houthi-run regions for the decision to end his life.

But this suicide was just the latest in recent months, reporter Fuad Rajeh, who spoke to the colonel's family, told The New Arab.

Similar events occurred in Ibb in recent weeks, he said, when another man who was unable to provide for his family also resorted to committing suicide.

Prior to that an employee attempted to kill himself by self-immolation in Dhamar city for failing "to support his 9-member family after not receiving salaries for months," Rajeh added.

Meanwhile, Rajeh noted a teacher in Hodeida died from a heart attack some months ago after he had been unable to provide a single meal to his family.

In Aden, an elderly man who was denied access to his salary on several occasions died outside the office that disperses funds to government employees, including teachers and police officers, last February.

"Many employees have thought of suicide as they can't support their families. Employees are so desperate to the point that they are now considering a range of options amid the deteriorating situation, including suicide," Rajeh said.

"It is better to end my life than beg, lose honour or die along with my family from hunger, some employees now say," according to Rajeh.

The New Arab cannot confirm the link between the deaths and the salary crisis, but thousands of Yemenis have resorted to extreme measures to remain afloat after not receiving salaries for several months, while the two-year conflict continues to drown civilians into further difficulties.

Thousands of Yemenis have resorted to extreme measures to remain afloat

Yemen, already the region's poorest nation, has suffered with more than two years of war that has left more than 10,000 dead and resulted in a nationwide famine. Meanwhile, hundreds of have died in recent weeks due to an outbreak of cholera.

On Monday, the UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh landed in Sanaa to launch a fresh round of peace talks, confirming his trip to the war-torn country is based around three main issues.

The first is to prevent an attack on the Hodeida port amid preparations by the Saudi-led coalition and the internationally recognised government to retake the port from the Houthi-Saleh alliance.

The second point on the the UN envoy's agenda is the worsening humanitarian crisis and the third focuses on the ongoing  salary crisis, with the aim of  maintaining the Central Bank's independence and protecting it from the conflict.

In September, the internationally recognised government transferred Yemen’s central bank to Aden after sacking its governor, in what wass regarded as an unprecedented move against the Houthis.

President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi demanded the swift relocation to the port city after accusing the rebels of diverting funds from foreign reserves – a claim backed by a UN report that revealed the Houthis were diverting about $100 million from the central bank per month, and that the foreign reserves had dwindled to $1.3 billion from about $4 billion in November 2014.

The dire situation has caused suffering for many, including a widow that walked into the local Aden al-Ghad media offices last year to request assistance in advertising her kidneys so that she could provide for her five children.