My name is Ahmed Jahaf. I am a graphic designer and artist living in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. My work is inspired by the Saudi Arabia-led war on my country. I live under constant bombardment and blockade. We have all been living like this since 26 March 2015. It has been 6 years since the “forgotten war” started in Yemen.
In 2015, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia began bombing and imposing a blockade on Yemen with the support of the US and UK governments. So I decided to speak out and try to break the media blackout. I’m angry because the US and the UK are supporting the Saudi-led coalition and are still selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
About daily life in Sana’a under bombing. After 6 years living under raids, under shelling, under siege, it has become a normal thing for Yemeni citizens, for me, for adults in general. Hearing the sound of aircraft, hearing the sound of air raids became normal for us, we only worry about children when they hear these sounds, we fear how these sounds will affect the children even if it seems to be coming from an area far away. As for us adults, it became very, very ordinary. Sometimes, when a few days pass by and we do not hear the sound of the planes, we are surprised and find it strange. Imagine the situation, more than 6 years, if a day passes without hearing the sound of an air raid, then we hear the sound of planes flying over.
this week, for example, there were air raids on Sana’a airport. In the morning and while people were sleeping, it was normal, we got up to the sounds and then I asked in my house “I think I heard the sound of an air raid, I think I heard the sound of flying”, someone said “yes they dropped bombs in the north of the capital Sana’a”. It has become a normal thing to live under air raids, unfortunately. We say unfortunately that it has become such a normal thing, that sometimes even when we hear the sound of air raid and an explosion and realize that it was in a residential area, we take our phones and camera and go to the area targeted even though it is dangerous because during the last 6 years, fighter jets deliberately returned to bomb the same place again.
This is life under constant air raids. As you may know few weeks ago there were several air raids in the capital Sana’a, one of which targeted the Ministry of Information which is right next to my house. Part of my house was affected, it was a raid on the ministry building and a raid that targeted a densely populated residential area, an area where a lot of people live.
The way of life for the Yemeni citizen has become very, very difficult. Especially now, for example, few week for month of Ramadan, with prices in the markets very high because of the blockade, because of the shortages in oil and its derivatives, especially in the past few days, there is a crisis of oil. Gas makes it to the neighbourhoods but there is always long lines and distribution is restricted, I need to have a card to get gas. It means that I get one gas cylinder only once every period with these cards distributed to the neighbourhoods. Life has become very difficult. We spend all our time looking for basic life necessities. We spend hours searching for either oil, electricity, solar energy, gas, any way to provide for our basic necessities, a life that is difficult in Sana’a, in rural areas it is even more difficult.
All of these shortages are caused by the blockade. The air blockade caused a major crisis because of the closure of the airport in Sana’a. In recent days flights from Aden airport have been blocked. As you know, travelling from Sana’a to Aden is not easy nor safe. Many patients cannot afford to travel to Aden, endure all that hardship to get there and then be prevented from flying. Most people do not leave here except for emergency situation such as sickness or for studies and education opportunities, basically, all of them are citizens who need to travel. They are prevented from doing so because of the air blockade.
Because of the sea blockade, now there is no oil in Sana’a. 14 oil tankers have been held by the coalition for more than three months. They let a ship enter once 60 days ago after a major crisis and shortages are deeply felts in the streets. The land blockade has also caused a lack of products and caused high prices. Now when goods from abroad or from China are imported, for example, we pay ten times more because of transportation costs. All of this because of the coalition’s blockade on our country.
My message to the world :
I want the people to know that what’s happening in Yemen is not the forgotten war, it’s the dirty war. Yemen itself never destroyed anything as Saudi-led invasion of Yemen did with U.S. and U.K. support. There is no reason that any nation has the right to destroy my country, whatever happened. The only need is peace; we need to live our own life as other humans do.
I believe that not only the Saudi-led coalition is bombing us, but also the U.S., the U.K, France, Germany and other countries are partners of the war crimes because they (are still) selling arms to Saudi and U.A.E., they support the blockade and keep silent about what is happening in Yemen. The war on Yemen was announced on the night of March 26, 2015, from Washington, and this war is one the U.S. doesn’t want people to know about.
So please speak loudly to stop this war and lift the blockade. We need you to send our voices to your government to stop the war and stop arming Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
There are many activists in the United States, in Britain, in Canada, in France who have been with Yemen since the first day of the war and we thank them, we cannot even express the depth of our thanks and pride. These are a few, but they have managed to send a message to their governments, to organizations in their home country, about what is happening in Yemen. Many activists and organizations have stood against arms deals that supply Saudi Arabia or the UAE with weapons to kill the Yemeni people. Activists that I can count with my fingers have managed to break the silence, to break the media silence, to do what perhaps hundreds couldn’t do. We thank them and wish from them more and more. They are standing with the oppressed, with the Yemeni child, with the Yemeni woman, with the Yemeni citizen, who has been under attack by more than ten countries.
There are countries that are directly involved in the war and other countries indirectly benefiting from what is happening in Yemen in arms deals, logistical support, oil transactions. There are many who are profiting on the blood of Yemenis and there are also heroes abroad who are standing up against this war with demonstrations, rallies, continuous condemnation to denounce their government’s support for these atrocities. Thanks.