Ancient human remains dating 3,000 years discovered in Yemen

Jeck Deocampo   •   August 30, 2019   •   1982

Ancient human remains were found in caves on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, but the scattered bones which date back more than 3,000 years, are said to have been damaged by looters looking for treasures.

Inside the mountain ranges of Shamlan, archaeologists say that the jaw bones, thigh bones and other remains that were found belong to two bodies that were most likely mummified.

The bones were found in a hole dug in a cave in the mountain range. According to the Houthi-aligned Minister of Culture Abdullah Al Kibsi, the remains belong to settlers who resided in the area at the end of the Stone Age.

The mummies were extracted by looters looking for gold, he added.

The remains are believed to be the first of other potential discoveries in the area.

Sanaa is said to have been founded two and half millennia ago and its old heart once bustled with traders and drew tourists in calmer times.

Sheba and other Yemeni kingdoms once provided the frankincense and myrrh hauled by desert caravans to perfume the temples of the Holy Land and ancient Rome.

Modern combat, however, is disfiguring important cultural treasures. Air strikes have levelled medieval mudbrick towers in Sanaa’s old quarter, a medieval mosque and an Ottoman fort.

Al Qaeda militants have dynamited Sufi shrines and armed attacks in Houthi-held lands have sent packing many members of a Yemeni Jewish community dating from the time of King Solomon around 1,000 B.C.

Folklore calls Yemen the cradle of the Arabs but its ancient heritage has been threatened by years of war.

A Saudi-led military coalition has carried out thousands of air strikes in a bid to dislodge Yemen’s armed Houthi movement from the capital. The conflict has killed at least 10,000 people and unleashed a humanitarian crisis. (REUTERS)

(Production: Adel Khedr, Abudlrahman al-Ansi, Mostafa Salem)

Saudi-led ceasefire in Yemen begins, raising hopes for peace

UNTV News   •   April 10, 2020

A nationwide ceasefire in response to the global coronavirus outbreak went into effect in Yemen on Thursday (April 9), raising hope for an end to the five-year-old war that has pushed millions to the brink of famine.

A Saudi-led coalition fighting against Yemen’s Houthi movement said it would halt military operations from 0900 GMT for two weeks in support of United Nations efforts to end the conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people.

The Iran-aligned movement, which controls the capital Sanaa and most big urban centres, has yet to announce whether it will follow suit in what would be the first major breakthrough in peace efforts since late 2018.

The United Nations and Western allies have pointed to the threat of the coronavirus to push the combatants to restart talks to end the war, which has shattered Yemen’s health system.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, told Reuters at least half of Yemen’s population was in a “very degraded health status” while three quarters require some form of humanitarian assistance or protection.

The conflict, widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been in military stalemate for years and brought Yemen’s economy to its knees. (Reuters)

(Production: Nael Shyoukhi, Ahmed Ansi, Abdelruhman Yahya, Tarek Fahmy, Hamuda Hassan)

War-ravaged Yemen confirms first coronavirus case

UNTV News   •   April 10, 2020

Yemen reported its first case of the novel coronavirus on Friday (April 10) as aid groups try to prepare for an outbreak in a country where war has shattered the health system and spread hunger and disease.

The case was diagnosed in the southern oil-producing region of Hadhramaut, the supreme national emergency committee said.

The patient was a Yemeni, working in the small commercial port of Ash Shihr, a local official told Reuters.

Authorities ordered the closure of Ash Shihr port for a week for deep cleaning and instructed workers there to isolate at home for two weeks, according to a directive seen by Reuters.

They also imposed a 12-hour nightly curfew in all Hadhramaut districts starting from 6:00 pm Friday until further notice. Civil defence vehicles near the port were ordering people through loudspeakers to stay home, residents said.

Yemen has been mired in violence since the Iran-aligned Houthi movement overthrew the government in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene. The Houthis still control Sanaa and most large urban centres.

The five-year-old conflict has killed more than 100,000 and pushed millions to the brink of famine. (Reuters)

(Production: Abdulrahman Yahya, Tarek Fahmy)

In war-ravaged Yemen, students are dropping out of school

UNTV News   •   December 17, 2019

Yemeni children attend class at a school on the outskirts of Sana’a, Yemen, 18 November 2019. EFE/EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

SANAA, YEMEN – Saad al-Zaidi, a 12-year-old student from Yemen, left school last year to seek a job on a farm on the outskirts of the capital Sanaa to help his father make a living for a family of nine.

This was not an easy decision for Saad or his father, a Sunni mosque preacher who lost his job when the Shiite Houthi rebels took control of Sanaa and most of the country’s northwest in late 2014.

Saad gains 1,500 riyals (roughly 2.5 dollars) per day and buys food for the family.

He is one of over two million children who are out of schools amid the continuing war in Yemen.

“I have to help my father,” Saad told Efe as he stood on a street leading to the school he used to attend in the Jader outskirts north of Sanaa.

“I like to study, but I cannot attend a class while my family needs food,” he explained, while his father nodded in agreement.

“The tragedy we are experiencing has plagued all people, not just me,” Saad’s father Ibrahim said.

“Because of our conditions, the father may have to take his children out of school to help with the living,” he added.

“I cannot feed seven children, let alone educating them,” he continued.

Hisham Oqbah, 14, is another student at the same school. He dropped out two years ago along with an older brother aged 15, for the same reason; to make a living for a family of eight.

Their father was a soldier and lost his job. He could not pay 10,000 riyals (around $17) of monthly house rent for two years.

“We sometimes find a job with a construction contractor, and sometimes we do not find any job and stay at home,” said Hisham.

They receive 2,000 riyals per day each.

Hisham dropped out of school after he finished the sixth grade of their primary school.

His lucky peers are still attending classes in the rundown one-story building that was an abandoned house turned to a school in Jader.

Around 500 students are enrolled and take turns attending the classes in the morning and afternoon in the only five classrooms.

The school looks like it is falling apart from the inside out. Missing or broken windows make tables, floor and even books dusty. Cracked walls are streaked with grime.

Some of the students sit on the floor due to the lack of chairs.

Students and teachers alike have neither toilets nor a cafeteria.

Although their school conditions are less-than-acceptable, they look lucky. They are learning, while Saad, Hisham and many other peers had to leave school to work and bring bread to their families.

Children in Yemen are not only deprived of education as the war goes on. They become a casualty of that war.

Khaled Shamsan, the school’s headmaster, said some of the students who drop out of school become combatants.

“Some of my students have chosen to go with the Ansarullah (Houthis),” Shamsan told EFE.

“Some of them have been injured and some are still at the frontlines,” he said.

UNICEF’s representative to Yemen Sara Beysolow Nyanti said such conditions are partly why Yemen is “the worst place for a child to be born.”

“A child born in a situation of bombardment, in a situation of war, in a situation of not knowing what tomorrow would bring, in a situation where they do not know whether or not their dreams can be realized, it is the worst place for a child to be born today,” Nyanti told Efe.

“The education system is dilapidated.

“Education is the least funded area in the entire humanitarian response in Yemen.”

UNICEF and partners have verified that around 3,000 children have been killed and 5,000 others injured since the war began in 2015.

“We expect the figures are far higher than that. Because of war, we are not able to verify all of the cases across the country,” she said.

“But that is too many children. Already one child killed is too many children. One child injured is too many children,” she added.

Despite those figures of fatalities and injuries among Yemeni children, says Nyanti, still the biggest risk they face is education.

“The greatest risk of the children right now besides their right to live and develop, we have to make sure that they are educated,” she said.

“If a child does not have education, the child would never fulfill his or her development potential … Even if the child lives and never get educated, what would be the quality of life for that child?” she asked. EFE-EPA

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