Rain threatens families living in Sana’a slums

Stories of children & their families affected by torrential rains

Mohammed Al-Jaradi
Photo from Al-Kharayeb slum in Madbah, Sana’a, Yemen.
Motaz Fuad/UNICEF Yemen/2020
14 November 2020

There is no other shelter for 30-year-old Amal Maqbool Al-Marwi and her six children as the house they live in is old an in danger of falling at any minute as a result of the heavy rains. They all live in an Al-Kharayeb or slums in Madbah, Sana’a", Yemen. Amal fled her hometown Sa’ada because of the heaving bombing.

Amal says: "I am not sure if my children and I will be safe if we continue to live in this place - she points at a room of three and a half meters high and two meters wide. She sleeps in this room with her children. There is also a kitchen and a living room where deep cracks show. In the corners of the rooms, one can see rain is leaking into the house. These houses are no longer suitable for human living.

Amal adds, "We live in terror and insecurity, and at a moment we expect walls and roofs to fall at any time.”

The upper part of the house was damaged by the heavy rain in July.

“one day, in the middle of the night, we ran to the first floor as we heard the sound of cracks as the rain was pouring heavily. The ceiling fell down as a result!,” Amal says. The next day, Amal and her family had to leave the house with her family. They sought shelter in the house of her husband’s relatives.  Yet, they couldn’t stay there for a long time not to be a burden on the hosting family. So they went back to our home despite the fear of the house to collapse at hour heads at any time.

“Where else can we go?!”

Amal and her children are one of 180 affected families, and the torrents are in Al-Kharayeb neighbourhood, the old village of Madhbah, Sana’a, Yemen.

According to a member of the local council in the district, Abdo Saleh Shaalan, who stressed that most of these families need urgent interventions to save their lives from the imminent danger represented by the fall and ruin of the old houses they inhabit.

Shaalan indicated that there are at least ten families, whose homes have been completely destroyed, and other families who had their hoses partially damaged, so they had to move to their relative's places, while others are now living in tents at the entrance to the neighbourhood.

The sad demise of a family member

The family of 50-year-old Abdullah Ahmad Ali lived in one of the tents set up at the entrance to the Kharayeb neighbourhood, as their house collapsed in August. It happened when the family were in deep sleep at night.

"There were 11 people in the room, including my daughter's husband and my adopted son, it was terrifying as the roofs of fell down on their heads,” says Ali.

Unfortunately, my 25-year-old adopted son Yahya, could not make it. He died after he choked by the dust.

Other families facing the same situation

Since 2015, Abdullah Ahmed and his family of Sa’ada governorate fled the heaving bombing. He comes from the same village of Amal and her family, the Almalahiz area. Their homes were destroyed because of the bombing in 2015.

49-year-old Mahdi Hassan feels no longer safe to sleep in the house, where he has been living for years. He lives in the house with the family of his nephew.

“I prefer to sleep by the entrance as the inside rooms have cracks. So I sleep here, pointing out at the entrance, where I feel safe,” says Hassan who appeals to everyone to help them.