彩神app 登入Feature: Yemen's children pay price of war

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Yahya Motahar's son Rawouf plays with a toy gun at home in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 25, 2019. (Xinhua/Mohamed al-Azaki)

by Mohamed al-Azaki

SANAA, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Yahya Motahar gets back home each evening after a long day of searching for any paid work in the war-torn Yemeni capital Sanaa in order to feed his children.

"I do all my best to find a work and earn cash to buy my children food," said the 400-year-old father of five children.

The ongoing war, economic blockade and sharply rising of inflation have pushed Yahya's grocery store into bankruptcy. Yehah was also among hundreds of thousands of state employees in the northern provinces who have not been paid since late of 2016 due to the civil war.

"I have lost my shop and my job's monthly salary since early 2016 ... of course because of the war," he said.

Yahya Motahar (C) and his children pose for photos at home in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 25, 2019. (Xinhua/Mohamed al-Azaki)

Yahya has since worked as a motorcycle taxi driver. On some days he works in transporting goods for local traders while on other days doing construction work.

"Life has become very difficult. I feel sorry for my children who grow in the time of war," he said as he turns his eyes towards his children.

His son Rawouf asked, "Dad, Eid al-Fitr is approaching, when are you going to buy us new clothes for the Eid festival?"

"Very soon," the father replied.

Eid al-Fitr is a Muslim festival that marks the end of Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Yahya Motahar's son Osama plays with a toy gun at home in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 25, 2019. (Xinhua/Mohamed al-Azaki)

The war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis, mostly civilians, displaced nearly three million others and pushed the country into the brink of famine, according to UN aid agencies.

The war erupted in late 2014 after the Iran-allied Shiite Houthi rebels stormed the capital Sanaa and seized much of the country's north after ousting Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and forcing him along with his government into exile in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations is struggling to save a peace deal reached in December last year, which is seen as a hope to end the country's four-year civil war, which is grinding into its fifth year and has pushed more than 20 million into the brink of starvation.

Frustration is growing in the rebel-held capital Sanaa as the economic crisis is deepening pains of the residents.

Yahya said his children are afraid of airstrikes and darkness.

"They cannot sleep normally in the night since the latest airstrikes in the area nearby," he said.

Last week, the Saudi-led coalition backing the government of President Hadi launched a series of airstrikes against the Houthi rebels' positions in and around the capital Sanaa. One of the airstrikes had killed a family of six members, including four children.

"You can feel the war in the children's eyes," said Yahya. "The children are afraid to go outside to play over fears of sudden air attacks," he said.

Yahya Motahar (C) and his children pose for photos at home in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 25, 2019. (Xinhua/Mohamed al-Azaki)

The residents have regularly heard sound of warplanes and the buzz of drones hovering above Sanaa around the day.

Yahya's another son Osama said he runs to his mother when hearing the sound of warplanes. "My mother gathers all of my siblings in one room to protect us from the airstrikes," Osama said. "In the night, I hide under blanket," he added.

Thousands of children at the age of 14 and above join the rival warring forces to earn cash for their families.

One of Osama's friend has gone to the frontline to join the fight. "Haitham went to the frontline ... he told me he will be a soldier and will obtain a gun and money," Osama said.

According to the recent report by the UNICEF, about 2,575 children have been killed in the war and 4,064 others injured. Around 2,706 children recruited into the fighting and more than 2 million children are out-of-school.

UNICEF said more than 2,4000 schools were out of use with two-thirds damaged by attacks and seven percent of schools were used for military purposes or as shelters for displaced people.

The UN aid agency also reported that at least 400,000 children under the age of five suffer from severe acute malnutrition and are fighting to survive.

Rawouf said he wants to be a doctor in the future and Osama said he dreams to be a pilot.

Their father Yahya said he hopes his children grow in peace. "I wish the war to end very soon...for the sake of all Yemeni young generation, the war must end... It is enough."