Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 16:48 UK

Voices of Yemenis displaced by war

Displaced children
Al-Mazraq refugee camp: children displaced by the conflict are encourage to play together by Save the Children volunteers

Fighting between Yemeni government forces and northern Shia rebels, known as Houthis, has driven 150,000 from their homes, according to UN groups.

More than 6,000 people have found their way to al-Mazraq refugee camp - two thirds of whom are children.

Here are two accounts from women in the camp, gathered by international aid agency Save the Children which has been working in al-Mazraq since late August.


Hailer is a widow with four children, the oldest of whom is five and the youngest two-and-a-half. She escaped with her brother-in-law from Dowaib, a village in Malaheet district of Saada province.

They were already bombing the next village to us when we decided to leave.

Amran: Hailer's two-and-a-half year-old son
The children are sick because it's too hot and they are not getting enough food

We rented a car to drive us straight here, it cost 30,000 rial ($150, £90). I feel much safer here.

I'm not afraid of the fighting any more but the hot weather makes life very hard.

We come from the mountains where the weather is a lot cooler. We're not used to this. Because of the heat, the children can't even eat when there is food.

There are six children and four adults living in this tent and we still need four more mattresses.

The children are sick because it's too hot and they are not getting enough food. They've got skin diseases because of the temperature and the fact there are so many people all living on top of each other. They all have diarrhoea with blood in it. They are losing weight.

I'm very worried about my children. I came here so they would be safe, but now they are sick. I don't sleep at night because I'm afraid for them.

Yemen camp
Temperatures regularly rise above 40C in al-Mazraq camp

I worry about what I'm going to feed them the next day and the fact I haven't got a change of clothes for them.

We have to go out into the field beyond the camp to go to the toilet. The doors on the latrines are crooked so there is no privacy. The latrines are filthy.

I don't know how long we will have to stay here. I pray that the war will stop so we can go back to our homes. I don't know who's right or wrong, I just want it to be over.


Badra, 22, has five children, aged between nine and one. She arrived with her neighbour Aisha who also has three children.

We left everything behind when we escaped the fighting. The government forces were on one side of us, the Houthis on the other, and we were stuck in the middle.

Badra, her one year-old son Yehia Faisel and neighbour Aisha
We didn't have time to take anything, just the clothes we were wearing and our children

After seeing the horrors that were going on, some of the old people in our village lost their breath and died from shock.

Government soldiers had been hiding in our house. Houthi rebels came storming into our home when they took our village. They shot eight soldiers who had been living with us in front of the children who were screaming.

We ran away when we saw this. We didn't have time to take anything, just the clothes we were wearing and our children.

We walked and walked through the mountains for days trying to get away from the war.

The children were crying but didn't have any food to give them. They didn't have any shoes on and hardly any clothes, so we had to carry them the whole way. We were travelling for three days. We didn't even have shoes on ourselves.

We crossed the boarder into Saudi Arabia before we found our way here. When we found out where we were, we turned around straight away. We knew the government there would deport us and we would have had even more problems.

We've been here five days and we don't yet have a tent. We're staying with a woman from our village.

We feel safe now we are away from the war but things are bad here. We had water tanks and beds and mattresses at home but we had to leave everything. Everything we owned will be stolen by now.

We hope the war will end and there will be quiet then we can go home. We need to restart our lives.

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