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Hunger, Fear Ravages Sanaa Under Houthi Rule

Hunger, Fear Ravages Sanaa Under Houthi Rule

Thursday, 23 December, 2021 - 07:00
A street in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa (Asharq Al-Awsat)

To date, millions of Yemenis residing in the Houthi-run Sanaa are enduring a state of frustration, misery, and deprivation caused by corrupt policies pursued by Houthis and that focus on looting and expanding starvation and impoverishment.

When wandering across Sanaa’s streets and alleys, the extent of suffering experienced by millions of residents becomes evident. Most Yemenis in Sanaa are beset by worries about the deteriorating security, political, economic, health and education conditions in the militia-run capital.

Asharq Al-Awsat has monitored and reported on the anguish of Yemenis dwelling across Sanaa’s neighborhoods and who describe the last seven years of living under Houthi rule as “seven years of tribulation.”

Onboard one of the buses transporting passengers, Asharq Al-Awsat was stopped by several stories of some citizens of different ages who were exhausted by the war created by Houthis. The gruesome conflict had transformed many into sidewalk vendors and beggars looking for a living to support their families.

Most of the conversations with those on board the bus centered around the difficulty of living in Yemen, the high cost of basic commodities, Houthi corruption, salary cuts, deteriorating security situation, and rampant unemployment.

Ahmad A., who used to work as a schoolteacher in Sanaa, is now working as a warehouse mover for a merchant in the Shumila neighborhood for the low wage of 3,000 Yemeni rials ($5) per day.

Two years ago, Ahmad stopped teaching because salaries weren’t getting paid. He was then forced to look for another job to make enough money to feed his family of six.

“I haven’t experienced misery, hunger, poverty, starvation and deprivation except in the period that followed the years of the coup and the Houthi war,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, pointing to millions of Sanaa residents, including civil servants, being unable to provide for their families because of Houthis seizing their pays.

“Our capital is no longer what it was before the Houthi invasion,” said Ahmad.

“There are no living conditions, no water, no electricity, no gas, no jobs, no salaries, no security, no stability, nothing to be mentioned on the ground except the Houthi looting and killing,” he added.

Perhaps the most prominent thing that Asharq Al-Awsat concluded through its tour and its tracking of the stories and hardships of dozens of citizens on a number of buses in the streets and roads of Sanaa is the very great resentment and anger expressed by the majority.

Yemenis in Sanaa are disgruntled with Houthis, instead of launching service centers, opening new graveyards and war-related exhibitions. More so, they are disappointed that the liberation of Yemeni territories, especially Sanaa, from Houthi hold is taking longer than they expected.

A 70-year-old senior on the same bus drew attention to the great struggle Yemenis are facing when trying to buy essential commodities. The last few days had witnessed an unprecedented hike in the price of foods, leaving many unable to secure a single meal for the day.

“We have tried many markets and stores in Sanaa, but we were surprised with the astronomical increase in the price of basic goods such as wheat, sugar, oil, rice, and vegetables,” the senior told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The hike in prices has left major Sanaa markets empty. The once crowded avenues are now seeing a limited influx of shoppers.

According to observers, the loss of buyers is due to the massive reduction of the purchasing power of locals. The ability to buy goods has been significantly diminished because of the Houthi-waged war.

Locals stomped by climbing prices accuse Houthis of being behind their suffering. They also blamed the illicit taxes imposed by Houthis on merchants for causing the hike in the prices of basic goods.

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