At risk of being cliche by starting by post with a Mother Teresa quote, here it goes anyway:
“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
Right now, Yemenis are suffering from both. Those in the country are suffering from hunger and dying from basic diseases and preventable causes due to the strict humanitarian blockade on the country, and the thousands stuck outside are being trapped in a recently created web of new visa restrictions, “illegal” status, and inability to return or even register as refugees.
War is one thing, abandonment is another. And Yemenis are learning, as the Syrian people know all too well, what it is like to be forgotten.
People like Helal Noman, a Yemeni medical student in Cairo who accompanied a boy in desparate need of brain surgery to Italy and Switzerland, and was not allowed back into Egypt to complete his degree, was returned to Switzerland and told by the border police he must leave.
People like Nabil, Jihad, and Samar, independent youth volunteering their little time and resources to Yemeni stuck in Cairo, whom have effectively had the burden placed on their shoulders that should have been carried by the embassy.
And people like the nameless Yemeni man in the street, who had nothing but a bag of papers (likely medical records) stolen from him by an Egyptian boy who heckled him and called him a beggar, as he walked away, hanging his head in defeat.
To know Yemenis is to know that their dignity is one of the most important things in life. And to see people’s dignity stripped away piece by piece is almost as great a tragedy as seeing the bombs drop.
What is comforting, is that I can recognize Yemenis in the street, before even talking to them. Though they have nothing, though they’re stranded with a war that has no end in sight, I can tell by the way their carry themselves: with dignity.