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Portraits of Yemen: Before the Invisible War

Portraits of Yemen: Before the Invisible War

As I am writing this, it is with some consolation that Yemen's horrific situation is coming into the light via the mainstream press. We were in Sana’a in the Spring of 2014, only a few months before the coup d'état by northern Houthi rebels shook the foundation of the country and turning it into a proxy between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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I am sharing photos of our time in the 2,500 old capital city and UNESCO world heritage site, with its ancient mud dwellings made of ochre, decorated with transcendent geometric patterns of white gypsum. As we moved through the streets, we politely refused offers of Qat and watched a blindfolded camel turn an olive press. We talked to a young blacksmith hammering away on a Jambiya sword, one of the country's most lucrative handicrafts. A spice vendor told me about how great his wifi was. The tea was strong. What the Romans had referred to Yemen as "Arabia Felix" or Happy Arabia, seemed true. 

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Since our illuminating time there, Yemen has suffered one of the worst humanitarian crises to date. Air strikes, no clean water access, malnutrition. Cholera. In early November 2017, Saudi Arabia had closed ports so medicine and food could not get to the people. As I write this the blockade has been reversed, but not enough to reverse the damage.

The ones who are paying the price? Children. One child is dying every 10 minutes. Children are malnourished and it is affecting their mental and physical development and will affect the next generation. We have to reevaluate our alignment with Saudi Arabia who is using the food and medicine for civilians as a weapon of war.

“If anyone wanted to be taught there was an illusion about human rights in American foreign policy, look no farther than our long-standing relationships with one of the most brutal, corrupt, and vicious governments on earth.”
— Zach Beauchamp, Vox's Worldly, on Saudi Arabia

For a deeper look at what is happening in Yemen, check out:

Saudi Arabia's Real Life Game of Thrones: Vox's Worldly
The U.S.'s involvement and support of Saudi Arabia: Vox
Alex Kay Potter, Photojournalist: Incredible photography documenting the last three years in Sana'a.
WHO Yemen Twitter Feed
Yemen Peace Project / Mafraj Radio Podcast

If you feel called to help children in yemen:

Save the Children
UNICEF Yemen

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