A Yemeni view from the USA [Archives:2003/04/Focus]

January 27 2003

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The news of the three U.S. citizens killed in Jibla, Yemen is tragic loss. They were providing humanitarian assistance to the poor and needy.
Yemeni-Americans from the area mourn their loss. My uncle tells me that my aunts were treated by them. My cousin’s wife said she remembers Kathy and her endless kindness. They charged very little if you had money or treated the sick for free if they could not afford it.
The news from Jibla tells similar stories of how William, Kathy, and Martha helped the poor the sick and the needy. A resident of Jibla spoke to Dr. Myers treating her when she was confined to bed for months to avoid miscarrying. She said, “Every day, she looked after me; she used to come to my house, until I was able to stand and walk without endangering my pregnancy.”
The stories from both sides of the ocean are the same. Yemeni Americans living in Brooklyn and Yemenis in Ibb Province recall similar experiences. Their death at the hand of a deranged man will discourage others like them from traveling to Yemen to assist those in need.
The view on this side of the ocean is that Yemen is loosely controlled and law and order beyond the major cities is non-existent. Guns are readily available and government control in remote provinces is very weak. Consequently, the country is a haven for terrorists linked to al-Qaeda.
Clearly,the central government needs to establish law and order across the country if it is to rid it self of terrorists linked to al-Qaeda. It needs to enact gun control legislations that will control the flow of guns and crack down on black markets that peddle guns and heavy artillery. It needs to persuade its citizens to surrender their guns and in return the government would provide security in remote areas.
Humanitarian organizations, companies wishing to do business, and tourists will be hesitant to travel to Yemen as long as lawlessness is rampant and government control is non existence beyond city lines.
This is the view from abroad. It is sad but true. It is the hope of this author that this perspective will slowly change for the better, to a Yemen that is secure and not conducive for a deranged man to walk into a hospital and kill three U.S. citizens who have devoted their lives to providing help and assistance to the needy.
* Mr. Abdo Zandani is the Information Technology Director of the Community School District 17 in Brooklyn, New York