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UAE aid helps rebuild shattered lives in Aden

Aden // Residents of Aden are slowly getting their lives back on track thanks to thousands of tonnes of UAE aid being distributed across the city.

The historic port was left ravaged after it was attacked and occupied by Houthi rebels from northern Yemen. Many from Aden fled to other parts of the country or overseas to escape the fighting. Those that remained have faced a breakdown in basic services and severe food shortages.

Since the Houthis were driven last month from the city by forces allied to President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, including Emirati troops, UAE organisations have been at the forefront of the relief efforts.

Six aid ships from the UAE have unloaded nearly 14,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid in the city.

“We do not know how can we thank the Emirates government for its help to the victims of the civil war in Aden,” said Amal Ayash, 33, who received a delivery of food aid at her home in the Daar Saad district several weeks ago.

Before the Houthis attacked the city, she worked as a journalist and used her salary to support her elderly parents with whom she lives. But after her newspaper shut down there was no income and food supplies started to run out.

“Even if the basic needs are available in Aden’s market, the residents do not have money to buy the basic goods and that is why the humanitarian aid is very important,” Ms Ayash said.

The first aid ship arrived in Aden four months ago while the Houthi rebels were still in control.

Once it arrived, teams of Yemenis in each of the city’s districts compiled a register of who was most in need. In the weeks that followed, the Emirates Red Crescent became more involved with the distribution, improving the process, Ms Ayash said.

On Thursday, a ship arrived carrying more than 4,800 tonnes of aid including basic goods and medical supplies sent by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation. Three more ships are on their way from the UAE.

The director of the Emirates Red Crescent office in Yemen, Hasan Al Jesmi said his organisation had rented large stores in Aden to keep the humanitarian aid, but said they were struggling to find enough suitable warehouses.

“We are going to distribute the loads of the humanitarian aid that reached on Thursday after 10 days, and we will target the whole eight districts of Aden,” he said.

Distribution to the other provinces liberated from the Houthis has not yet started he said.

When the Houthis started to attack Aden in March after seizing the capital Sanaa in September, the majority of Aden’s residents fled to other provinces and other countries. But by the beginning of August, with the Houthis driven north, they started returning to their homes.

The extent of the damage to the city however, means businesses and government offices remain shut. Few people have been able to return to work and most are unable to aford even the most basic provisions.

“I cannot forget the food basket that I received from the Emirates in the beginning of this month when I did not have anything in my house and also I do not have money to buy,” said Mohammed Al Zaidi, a barber in Crater district.

The food basket he received from the Emirates red Crescent contained a bag of wheat, rice, sugar and beans, along with cleaning products.

He said the UAE was the first country that came to the aid of Aden’s residents and as a result the word “Emirates” has become synonymous in the city with acts of charity.

Essam Al Shaeri, the undersecretary general of the Aden-based Sah Foundation for Defending Rights and Freedom, said the UAE had increased its role in distributing the aid.

“It used to be that the Yemenis distributed the humanitarian aid, and that was unfair as much of it leaked to the black market and we could see the aid selling in the market, but right now it is better as the Emirates Red Crescent itself distributes the aid from the Emirates,” he said.

He said he hoped the Red Crescent would be able extend its aid effort to other provinces near Aden where many more people are in need of assistance.

Despite the scale of the aid operation, the people of Aden are still in dire need.

Zainab Abdallah, a teacher and mother of two, said she received humanitarian aid from the Emirates Red Crescent at the start of August but it was only enough for one week.

“I wish that the Emirates could provide us with more basic goods,” she said.

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(via The National)