Returnees: fourteen years of suffering [Archives:2004/781/Community]

October 14 2004

By Mohammed Hassan Bakheet
[email protected]
For the Yemen Times

After the Gulf War, many Yemeni families came back to their motherland. These families were living in many different Gulf countries, most of them were in Saudi Arabia. They were living in comfort and opulence, and they thought they would find the same life in Yemen. So they quickly returned to their country expecting to have a decent life in Yemen. But alas what happened to them was the opposite of what they were predicting. They saw something their minds never had expected. They really faced a big shock.
Now most of them are living in Hodeidah in slums (shown in the picture). They suffer from poverty and illnesses. They are in desperate need of the basic requirements of life. They have sold everything valuable that they had like televisions, cars, refrigerators, and even beds to ensure bread for their children. Can you believe that their monthly income is about 7000 riyals if not less? What can this meager income do for them? This is why some of them take only one meal a day.
Let alone their houses. They are made of wood and straw. These houses can not provide them with shelter from either sunshine or heavy rain.
If you see their children, you would think that you were living in the poor parts of Africa because you will notice that they are bony with tattered clothes.
For fourteen years, they have hoped that someone will look at them but until now nobody has. None can help them except for our government.
Most of them tried to return to the Gulf countries. A few of them were able to do that but many others were not. Young and middle-aged men – sometimes women – cross the Saudi border to work there to sustain themselves and their families. They spend hard times there in return for a few pennies.
They have been calling for help for years. Their loud shrieks fall on deaf ears. I can not explain or rationalize the inaction on the part of the government.
They have developed a sense of senselessness, trying to will themselves to be satisfied with their current conditions. They have despaired to get relief from the government and are praying to Allah to help them. The government always promises them, especially at election times, to help them, but nothing has happened until now.
The former expatriates feel regret over their return, which they consider as a big mistake.
The last question, which we ask our government, is that are they Yemeni people or not?
If yes, why does our government not help them?
All of us are astonished at this treatment. We, however, have not lost hope and wait to see what may come from our government to relieve this miserable segment of the society, whose only fault was their patriotism and their return to their homeland.