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The attention span of humans is very short and the memory is even shorter. It has the wonderful capability of sifting through what matters and affects us directly for retention and discards the rest, no matter how grave they may be. The Yemen conflict in Yemen which entered its sixth year recently can be aptly called the world’s forgotten war. Hardly anybody talks about it, nobody cares, and even at its peak, the country was left to perish. Though in recent weeks (this is before the Corona lockdown), the Yemen conflict saw another spike in the fighting and distressing reports of Yemen’s entire generations of malnutrition children started showing up on social media platforms, the world chose to look away. Yemen crisis has never felt more ignored and it is not a surprise that no data shows on Yemen’s Coronavirus condition on the John Hopkins pandemic map. It is as if the country does not exist on the world map anymore.

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Old Sanaa is very dear to me

Yemen crisis, the world’s forgotten war

As the threat of COVID-19 gets bigger, people across Yemen, being fully aware that their country won’t be able to cope against the disaster, are bracing themselves for the worst. It is to be remembered here, that the Yemen crisis went beyond just civil and the citizens suffered from cholera, malnutrition, and starvation. Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, is devastated and unfortunately, nobody seems to care. Trying to understand the Yemen crisis would be similar to demystifying “what came first egg or chicken” situation and all we, the rest of the world, can do is not to shrug our shoulders and forget them. Reposting my series on Yemen, one of the most beautiful and unfortunate countries in the world. The paragraphs below are flashbacks of how this series started.

Recommended Read: The Egypt series

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It is packed with memories for me

How do you handle being a victim of a terror attack?

“Terror attacks in Japan, Germany, Belgium, France, United States, Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Egypt……etc. The last two years have made the world bleed like never before and unfortunately, we are still in July. With so much hatred and violence spreading across the globe like a deadly virus, traveling has become a dangerous passion. Attacks at airports, at national holiday celebrations, shopping malls, etc have cast a pall of dread on regular activities and you never know when terror and/or heartbreak strikes. Apart from facing such a situation yourself, losing your loved ones to these mindless acts of hatred is a most traumatic experience and the well-wishers of the victims ask themselves the big question, “Why did this happen?” every single day of their lives. Being a direct or indirect victim of violence of such kind is torturous and whether it is war, civil riot or terrorist attack, the bloodshed of the innocent (especially if it is of your loved one) is a heinous act.

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My heart still remembers my old friends from Sanaa

Yemen crisis is still ongoing and nobody cares

It was while I was watching reports of Munich terror attack on TV that my memory churned up some very familiar old ghosts of pain and immediately Sanaa had appeared in front of my eyes. The memories appeared like blasts from the past. As the newsreader reported on the terrorist’s intention of targeting children inside a McDonald outlet, smiles, childish laughter and happy squeals from another place and time came back to me in a rush. The city was Old Sanaa and the time had been Jan-Feb 2015. I visited Yemen on a work trip and although the country was unstable at the time of my arrival, nothing had prepared me for the nightmare which followed. Yemen crisis started with their government falling apart during my stay and immediately thereafter Saudi Arabia attacked it with full vengeance. Bombs fell from the sky like huge, hot flowers of death and destruction wiped out one of the loveliest and most historically rich places on earth. Those were moments when the time seemed to stretch till eternity and I finally returned home shattered to the core. My nightmares, however despite being brought to safety continued and every day for many months, I remained glued to news spilling out of Yemen. I waited eagerly to know of the welfare of the people I had known, stayed with, laughed with, played along and loved a little; people who had left deep impressions in my heart.

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Sanaa is a city of beautiful sunrises

The intense pain of looking for those left behind

I wanted to know of their plight; if they escaped the wrath of war; if their homes were still left intact; if they had money left for food and medicine and most importantly if they were still alive. This is unimaginable torture: one that I inflicted upon myself for months until a deadly shock informed me of the entire family of a very close friend in Taiz being wiped out in an air-strike. The news left me numb and after that, I discontinued following up on the Yemen crisis. Travel often brings pain in today’s world and Yemen is the most beautiful, yet heartbreaking experience of my career. The ancient land of the Queen of Sheba is unrecognizable today and the gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Sanaa hardly exists anymore. This brings me back to the memories that got churned up while watching TV last night. Once again I found myself drowning in apprehension and there was the revival of the familiar sensation of tossing uneasily, in the desperate hope that some of my memories of Old Sanaa may have escaped from being wiped out. This photo essay is dedicated to those familiar ghosts of Old Sanaa, most of whom no longer exist today and the world’s forgotten war, the Yemen crisis.

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It used to have bustling souks

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And timeless lifestyle.

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The city had once

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Been an Arabian dream.

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This was before

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The war had snuffed

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The life out of the city

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And bombed the

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Out of existence

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Memories of Sanaa

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Still haunt me

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And I often wonder

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About who and

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What’s of it

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Still exist on the

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Face of the earth today

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Gone are Sanaa’s famous powercuts

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Bright afternoons

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Old school lifestyle

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And tradition bound people

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Wonder if Sanaa children

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Still giggle so freely and

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If the gun totting regular citizens

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Still have time

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To leisurely chew qat

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Or we are looking at a place and people

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Who are ghosts from the past now

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