Al Mahrah, Yemen – A two-month truce has brought some hope to Yemen. The United Nations-brokered deal between a Saudi-led coalition and the Yemeni government on one side, and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, is a significant step towards ending a conflict that has killed tens of thousands and pushed millions into hunger.
The last coordinated cessation of hostilities nationwide was during peace talks in 2016.
Although the bombs have stopped falling, seven years of brutal conflict have taken a devastating toll on an already impoverished country and led to what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Since the start of the war in 2015, the UN Development Programme estimates that more than 370,000 people have died, 60 percent of them from indirect causes such as lack of food, water, and health services.
Two out of three Yemenis require humanitarian aid and protection, and four million are internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.
Air raids and shelling have resulted in the breakdown of hospitals and schools, while a shortage of food – which worsened as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – has affected more than 16.2 million Yemenis, with in excess of 2.25 million children suffering from acute malnutrition.
But behind the statistics, the politics, and the headlines, what is life really like for Yemeni people? With much of the attention on the Houthi-held north, many people living in the country’s government-held south talk of facing an “economic war”.
As a man from Sanaa who now spends most of his time in the south said, “they are bleeding in the north – here in the south we are bleeding softly”.
It remains to be seen whether the current UN-brokered truce will lead to lasting peace in Yemen.
But despite the ongoing uncertainty, life goes on.
Children go to school, fishermen bring in their catch and people wait in traffic jams, all of them hoping that Yemen will be able to find peace and rebuild itself.