Monday, 16 November 2009

Refugee conditions worsened after Saudi war against Al Houthi rebels

By Nasser Arrabyee/16/11/2009

The 2-week old Saudi military operations to drive back Al Houthi rebels from the Saudi territories have worsened the humane situation and forced about 3500-4000 Yemenis refugees to return to Yemen.

They were hosted and sponsored by the Saudi authorities after they had fled their homes because of the war between the Yemeni government and Al Houthi rebels, which were erupted more than three months ago.

At the beginning of the war, most of those were prevented by Al Houthi rebels from displacing to safer places inside Yemen. So they displaced to the neighboring Saudi areas like Al Ghawya, Al Shaneq, and Al Khuba.

When Al Houthi rebels attacked and occupied the Saudi mountain of Al Dukhan in November 3, the Saudi authorities ordered all civilians at the border areas to leave for safer places including the Yemenis.

But, the Yemenis were not allowed to enter further into the Saudi territories because every one of them especially men were dealt as Al Houthi suspects at the beginning.

Those came back from Saudi Arabia were staying out side the over-crowded Al Mazrak refugee camps until Friday November 13th, when I visited them as a journalist.

The 45-year old Musfer Ali Ahmed Al Waleb who escaped from Saudi village of Al Ghawya after he spent three months with his 30-member extensive family, said he and all men members were put in Saudi custody for about 24 hours.

"They thought we were working with Al Houthis although they knew we spent three months in their sponsorship, they allowed only women and children to go by Saudi buses to Al Tiwal where they were handed to Yemeni authorities in Haradh," He said.

Musfer and the other men from his family stayed in the Saudi custody from Friday noon until Saturday noon November 6-7.

"The Saudi soldiers thought we were cooperating with Al Houthi rebels, some of us were beaten, and we were left alone in the custody without food, we drank only from the taps of the bathrooms," said Musfer.

When asked who they blame for what's happening to them some said Al Houthi rebels must be blamed and some said they do not know at all who to blame , what they know is they are suffering.

"I blame Al Houthis for what's happening to us, they have goals to achieve from our sufferings," Said the 18-year old Rakan Mohammed Ali.

The 43-year old Ahmed Jar Allah Al Balwi who is Zaidi, said he displaced only last week from Haidan, one of the most important strongholds of the rebels, because Al Houthis were harassing him and his family after almost every air strike on Haidan.

"They say we give information to the troops to strike their hideouts," he said.

"Al Houthis are not Zaidis , not Shafees (sunni), not even Muslims," said Al Balwi's 10-year old son, Abdul Ghafoor, when I asked his father why Al Houthis did this to you and you are Zaidis.

The 66-year old Basam Muhsen Jar Allah blamed the government for what's happening to them because it was not serious in ending the rebellion from the beginning as he said.

"I blame the Yemeni government for this war, it is the government who made this war long, every round of war, the government was ending up with a deal in favour of Al Houthis who were getting stronger and stronger in every round," he said.

"The government and everybody should realize that Al Houthis have no clear demands, they want only to rule Yemen not only Sa'ada, and this is impossible because they want to achieve this by force," added Jarallah who is also Zaidi refugee from Haidan.

About Iran's support for Al Houthi, he said," Yes, there is clear support from Iran, since more than two years, Al Houthis have been repeating the speeches of Khomeni and Hassan Nasr Allah as the only scholars of Islam, they insulted the other scholars in Saudi Arabia and Egypt."

The war in the Yemeni Saudi borders greatly affected many people from both sides like the 45-year old Ali Ali Abdu, who says his business in smuggling has completely stopped because of this war.

" I blame Saudi Arabia for my sufferings now, before its war against Al Houthi I was fine smuggling wheat, flour, and qat and other things and I used to make money to support my self and my family, but now I can not even feed myself," said Ali Abdu.

The 55-year old Ahmed Abdullah Al Manjashi along with 8 members of his family are also still outside the over crowded camp of Al Mazrak. In a small tent outside the camp, he says we do not receive any food or water from the camp, we just registered and we were told to wait.

About 4000 Yemenis of those who displaced from Saudi territories are still also like this family waiting for registration to receive assistance from Al Mazrak camp, where more than 8000 refugees receive food, water, shelter and medicine from relief agencies.

Over the past three months, the family of Al Manjashi shifted to four different places fleeing the fighting.

"At the beginning of the war, we first displaced to Razeh, and when war came there we displaced to Al Husama, then we displaced to the Saudi area of Al Khuba, and only last week, we displaced to this camp Al Mazrak, now we are still outside it as you can see," he said.

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