Real lives

Feature stories


Sayeed’ story: “I wish the war could stop so I can go back to my country and live in dignity with my children.”

Despite their harsh life, Sayeed’s children keep smiling, hoping that the war in Yemen will stop soon so they can go back home.

Story by Ansar Rasheed, Communication for Development Officer, UNICEF Aden Field Office, Yemen

7 January 2019, Boulaos, Djibouti – The ongoing conflict in Yemen has displaced more than 2 million people across the country since March 2015. Some of the families who fled the violence of armed clashes, have even crossed the border into neighboring countries in an attempt to find some sense of security and provide their children with a better future.

This is the case of Sayeed Othman. Sayeed and his wife decided to leave their village in Al Torbah district of Taiz governorate to find refuge in Djibouti. Djibouti is hosting more than 26,000 refugees from Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea and Ethiopia, of which 21,000 reside in camps. Along with other 2,000 Yemeni families, Sayeed, his five-month pregnant wife and their seven children, from 17 to 3 years old, live in the urban settlement of Boulaos, near the capital city of Djibouti. Most of these families stay in shelters made of hardboards or rent a garage, for a cost of 100 USD per month. Since it is difficult for them to find a job, they don’t have regular incomes and face some difficulties to provide their children with food and access to education.

In Yemen, Sayeed was an electric engineer but in Djibouti, he is struggling to make ends meet as it is challenging to find a sustainable job for more than 5 USD per day. “Here, we are living in hell. We barely can afford one meal a day and I have too many mouths to feed. I wish the war could stop so I can go back to my country and live in dignity with my children,” Sayeed says.

In coordination with external partners, including other UN agencies such as WFP and UNHCR and non-profit organisations like the Lutheran World Federation, UNICEF supports these families with a package of interventions, including psychosocial services, school incentives, so children can still go to school, and distribution of hygiene kits, in order to improve their living conditions and bring them back a sense of dignity.

Sayeed with his son Mohammed who urgently needs an ear surgery.

“I don’t have any wish for 2019. I lost my dreams, I lost hope. I want this life to end so that my family doesn’t have to suffer anymore,” says Sayeed’s daughter, Reymas, 11 years old, on the left.

“My wish for the new year is for the war in Yemen to stop so I can go back to my village and live a normal life, like any other children in the world,” says Khalid, 13 years old, one of Sayeed’ sons.

“Our life has no future, we struggle to feed ourselves and survive. We are in a country that is not ours, surrounded by strangers. I’ve always dreamed of going to the university and becoming a doctor but I lost hope for my dreams to come true,” says Sayeed’s eldest daughter, Khayzaran, 17 years old.

Thanks to UNICEF and its partners’ support, Sayeed’s children and other refugee children are going to a private Yemeni school in Djibouti to continue their education.



 Email this article

unite for children