Portraits of Yemen: Before the War
As I am writing this, it is with some consolation that Yemen's horrific situation is coming into the light via the mainstream press. We were in Sana’a in the Spring of 2014, only a few months before the coup d'état by northern Houthi rebels shook the foundation of the country and turning it into a proxy between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
I am sharing photos of our time in Sana'a, Yemen's capital city, with its 2,500 year old mud dwellings mad of ochre, decorated with transcendent geometric patterns of white gypsum. As we moved through the streets, we politely refused offers of Qat and watched a blindfolded camel turn an olive press. We talked to a young blacksmith hammering away on a Jambiya sword, one of the country's most lucrative handicrafts. A spice vendor told me about how great his wifi was. The tea was strong. What the Romans had referred to Yemen as "Arabia Felix" or Happy Arabia, seemed true.
Since our illuminating time there, Yemen has suffered one of the worst humanitarian crises to date. Air strikes, no clean water access, malnutrition. Cholera. In early November Saudi Arabia had closed ports so medicine and food could not get to the people. As I write this the blockade has been reversed, but not enough to reverse the damage.
The ones who are paying the price? Children. One child is dying every 10 minutes. Children are malnourished and it is affecting their mental and physical development and will affect the next generation. We have to reevaluate our alignment with Saudi Arabia who is using the food and medicine for civilians as a weapon of war.
Take a look at my photos of Sana'a before the war and the links I've attached to learn more and help.
For a deeper look at what is happening in Yemen, check out:
Saudi Arabia's Real Life Game of Thrones: Vox's Worldly
The U.S.'s involvement and support of Saudi Arabia: Vox
Alex Kay Potter, Photojournalist: Incredible photography documenting the last three years in Sana'a.
WHO Yemen Twitter Feed
Yemen Peace Project / Mafraj Radio Podcast