SILVER LININGJabal el-Tair volcano and plight of soldiers [Archives:2007/1094/Opinion]

October 15 2007

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
I interviewed the survivor from the volcano of Jabal el-Tair island Ahmed al-Jalal the same day he was survived by the Canadian navy October 2nd. The 22-year old man told me a horrible story on how managed to fight for 22 hours in the sea for life. This is terrific. However, what is more horrible is the situation soldiers had to face in the unpopulated island that is 140km away from the coast of Hodieda. Can you imagine? No one of the soldiers sent to serve over there have been trained how to swim. Al-Jalal told me that he used to exercise swimming in swimming pools in his village and this is why he managed to stay this long time struggling against an imminent death. The soldiers do not have a safety boat to escape any emergency incident that might take place. He told me that they were a batch of 800. After receiving their routine military exercise, they were sent to Hodiedah. Those who had support of influential people were dispatched to serve inside the city while those very poor people were exiled to the island. It was a sort of punishment for their poverty and lack of backup. He has spent there over a year for a monthly salary of 19,000 Yemeni riyals only.

They had no housing. They had to build their own cottages to protect themselves. “What is your business at the island? Do you monitor the shipping route?”” I asked him. He said no tasks were assigned to them. They were ordered to “”just distribute watch shifts among yourselves lest the Eritrean people come to slaughter you.”” More worse