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Yemenis Welcome Ramadan with Bittersweet Feelings

Sami Almaqtari

May 7 (Republican Yemen) __ People in war-wracked Yemen witness the fifth Ramadan, an Islamic, fasting month, amid a war that has triggered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in modern times.

With death toll increasing, cholera spreading out, and prices skyrocketing, Yemenis welcomed the holy month with bittersweet feelings: happy for the coming of Ramadan and sad they can’t make ends meet.

People in the port city of Aden, Yemen’s interim capital, welcomed the holy month by decorating streets with colorful lights.

Sports Journalist Muktar Mohammed Mashriqi described how residents in Aden prepare for this month and how life style changes.

Decorating Aden’s streets with colorful lights


“The people here started doing special preparations, such as cleaning their houses, buying incense and decorating their homes,” Mr. Mashriqi told Republican Yemen.

He also said that he gets busy covering a popular event of an annual  football tournament among neighborhoods in the city that takes place during the holy month of Ramadan.

Nonetheless, food has become hard to afford and families face great difficulties in providing basic needs for their kids, according to Muktar.

The popular resistance with help of UAE forces liberated the city from Houthi rebels during the holy month in 2016.

Months later, the Yemeni legitimate government declared the city the interim capital of Yemen, for the rebels still in control of Sana’a.

In the four-year besieged city of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, young people did not miss the opportunity of celebrating this distinguished Islamic month despite suffering from dire conditions due to the scourge of war.

Students celebrating the coming of Ramadan at Global Language Institute (GLI)

Samah Yasier, an English student at GLI and an international business management sophomore at Al’ta’a University, told Republican Yemen that she welcomed the fasting month with mixed feelings. She also mentioned that this Ramadan seems to be somewhat better than the four previous ones in terms of crime rate and security.

“I feel blessed that all my family members are here with me and that we have enough food, yet I feel terribly saddened for those families whom the war has taken the lives of their loved ones, not to mention there are enormous families in dire need for humanitarian aid,” she said.

“Everyone must shoulder their moral and religious responsibility in checking on their neighbors to see whether they have food to break their fast or not. This is what Ramadan is for! We just wish the war would stop, but there is no end in sight.”

Children welcome the holy month in Al Masbah neighborhood

A resident in Al Masbah neighborhood said they hold a modest celebration on this  blessing occasion for the religious value and spirituality it has.

Things seem to be much worse in the rebel held capital, Sana’a.

employees’ salaries in the public sector have not been paid for over two years; however, people welcomed the holy month with joy.

“I don’t recall the last time I was paid. It has been a long time ago,” an electrical engineer told Republican Yemen on condition of anonymity.

“It is crazy how many people here are in desperate need while the beneficiaries of this war build large buildings and open huge malls. You know who I mean,” he added referring to the rebels.

“I, like many others, am so happy to relive Ramadan. The streets are crowded with people and cars.”

Ibtisam al-Mokabery and her husband, both are teachers, said life has turned upside down since the war started. They accused the internationally recognized government of double standards.

“We are all Yemenis, we need to be paid just like the teachers in the liberated areas,” they complained.

“We spent all the money we had saved. Now our only son dropped out of college and went to work as a factory worker to help us survive. The pay is too low, but it is better than starving.”

The war has pushed the already impoverished country into the brink of famine, with 230000 infected cases of cholera and more than 80% of the population in desperate need for humanitarian assistance.

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