x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Housing donation fills dire need in Yemen

A donation by the UAE to build 1,000 houses will help people living in makeshift homes after floods.

A Yemeni man walks in front of collapsed houses that belonged to his family in Mistah, to the east of the country.
A Yemeni man walks in front of collapsed houses that belonged to his family in Mistah, to the east of the country.

SANA'A // A donation by the UAE to build 1,000 houses will help people living in makeshift homes weeks after flash floods hit Hadhramaut and al Mahrah governorates in Yemen's south-east. "It is really difficult to describe the situation," said Hisham al Saqqaf, a journalist who lives in Seyoun city in Hadhramaut. "Thousands of homeless families are living in schools or with their relatives. "You can't imagine how difficult and miserable the situation is. About 1,700 people are living in one school and in al Jaheel 38 people are living in one classroom. It is a miserable situation," he said. Children are not going to school because the buildings are either used as shelters or were damaged or destroyed in last month's flood. Making the situation worse, and potentially creating a health problem, are the stagnant pools of water and piles of rubbish and dead animals surrounding ruined houses. "The stagnant water due to the absence or in some cases the destruction of sanitary and piped water networks are posing a threat," said Awadh Khashmim, a resident of Hadhramaut. The government has started spraying for mosquitoes, which can carry disease. "We are really concerned that government and public enthusiasm to support the people in the afflicted areas might wither away," he said. The main issue for those hit hardest is a lack of food and trying to help them find a place to live. "The government and public response, as well as that of the Gulf countries and charitable societies, have addressed the urgent need of the people in terms of food and non-foodstuffs. But the main issue now is how to provide these people with resources of sustainable income. "Families became poor overnight. Many people lost their livestock and vehicles and? the main source of their income. It is also important the government should move quickly to address the issue of reconstruction," Mr Khashmim said. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation in Dubai is dispatching electricity generators and water, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha). Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, donated money for the building of 1,000 homes for flood-affected Yemenis. The government in Sana'a thanked Sheikh Khalifa and considered it a sign of strong ties between the UAE and Yemen. "The UAE was the first country to dispatch aid to the citizens hit by the floods. They have provided a lot and the decision of the UAE president will definitely help in addressing the question of reconstruction and housing, which remain the main challenges right now," said Salem al Khanbashi, the Hadhramaut governor. Mr Khanbashi said it is difficult to give an exact figure of how many houses have been destroyed by the flooding, which was caused by a tropical storm that hit Hadhramaut last month. UN agencies and non-governmental organisations have appealed for US$11.5 million (Dh42m) to help the thousands hit hardest. According to a press statement by Ocha, the funding being sought is needed to provide food, water, shelter and education as well as sanitation, health and nutrition services. The death toll, according to the Yemeni interior ministry, has risen to 85 in Hadhramaut and five in al Mahra. Thirty-one people are still missing and 20,000 to 25,000 were made homeless in Hadhramaut. malqadhi@thenational.ae