Sanaa diary: life under the thunder of bombs

Sanaa diary: life under the thunder of bombs
3 min read
07 Apr, 2015
Blog: The Saudi-led air campaign against the Houthi rebels has had a catastrophic effect on ordinary Yemenis, writes Osamah al-Fakih.
Houthi fighters on the streets of Yemen's capital, Sanaa [AFP, Getty]
No one in my part of Sanaa has really slept since the beginning of military operations by the Saudi-led coalition.

I managed to get to sleep at 4am the other night. Half an hour later, an explosion woke me, followed by a volley of anti-aircraft fire. I found it impossible to sleep until I finally left for the office.

That morning, we woke up to a huge dust storm. Across the Gulf region, schools and businesses were closed as visibility dropped to a few metres. People in Sanaa hoped it would have another effect - giving them a break from the air raids.

But at 8.10pm, I heard two huge explosions and another round of anti-aircraft fire. I was with a friend in his apartment. When we heard the explosions we looked at each other thinking they were thunder. It took us a few moments to realise that the bombing had resumed. The curtains and and windows were shaking.

The streets of Sanaa are almost empty these days. The majority of residents have either left for their villages or stay indoors in fear. Yet some carry on with their lives. Kids play in the streets, and some people even hold weddings despite the fighting.

Reading a Human Rights Watch report about a raid on a camp of displaced people made me wonder who many more women and children we would lose before the end of this madness. The civilians of Yemen were never asked if they wanted to take part in a proxy war.
     The civilians of Yemen were never asked if they wanted to take part in a proxy war.

Checking the news coming from the south and particularly from Aden left me deeply sad and frustrated. In parallel with the air raids, people of Aden found themselves confronting the militias of former president Abdullah Ali al-Saleh and the Houthis.

Aden, the same city that Saleh invaded in 1994 with Islah militias to defend the unity of Yemen, is again being invaded by Saleh on the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. Regardless of the arguments, the results are the same: more fighting, more civilian victims.

The leadership of the coalition has prevented humanitarian assistance and medical aid from entering the country. Doctors Without Borders has already announced how difficult the situation is in Aden. The hospitals in Yemen's second city no longer have enough supplies to treat the wounded.

In all of this chaos, there is a third voice: those who are against both the military campaign and the practices of the militias. It is a voice that Yemen and the rest of the region needs to hear.

Osamah al-Fakih is a human rights activist and co-founder of the #SupportYemen media collective.