With Increasing Suffering: How did Southerners Receive Ramadan?


Fri, 08-04-2022 03:35 PM, Aden

Abdullah Al-Shadli (South24)

Most Southerners did not wish Ramadan this year to be accompanied by food insecurity, delay in paying salaries, basic communities price hikes, a decrease in the electricity operation hours in most governorates, and the full absence of power services in other areas amid high summer temperatures. 
The suffering is intensified with the Yemen Civil War entering its 8th year amid warnings from international organizations that tens of thousands of the population face starvation.  
A week ago, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, announced a two-month Ramadan truce that could revive a glimpse of hope for some people who are fed up with war and conflict. 
A woman from the city of Mukalla on the Hadramout Coast (Sahil Hadramout) didn't find the proper words to express the extent of suffering experienced by her seven members- of family. She just said: "Only God knows our conditions. We now eat food remains”  
The woman, who is in her sixties, was unable to complete her interview with "South24" due to the extreme despair that hit her family because of the delay in paying the salary of her eldest son who works in the army. She added: "We, as adults, struggle for survival; our only dream is to eat. But who can convince children to be patient and to bear the helplessness and poverty?"  
Saleh Abdullah, a teacher from Mukalla believes that delaying paying salaries is not worse than their low levels. 
Abdullah told "South24": “the delay of our salaries reaches 50 days sometimes, or at least 40 days if we are lucky. We have nothing but to be patient and to wait for the small salary which is not even enough to buy children's needs". 
He added: "We receive 56000 Yemeni riyals every 50 or 40 days. It is really unfortunate. Now with the advent of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr, we live in a real predicament". 
Ramadan needs burden families

Despite people's joy by the advent of Ramadan, several demands related to it burden poor and destitute families. Um Salem, a retired teacher from Mukalla, talked about her conditions one decade ago. She said: "We were covered. We didn't imagine one day that if we eat a meal, we won't be able to find another". 
She also told "South24" that "the biggest side of people's suffering is related to the services that consume much of the income". She pointed to the hike in gas and fuel prices. 
Most Southern families suffer from the threats of poverty while humanitarian aids, taken by some, are not enough to fill their hunger and they sometimes have to sell them at cheap prices to buy other needs". 
In the governorate of Shabwa, east of Aden, journalist Abu Bakr Al-Awlaki told "South24": "There are people who suffer more in this oil-rich governorate". He added that "job opportunities are very few in Shabwa. There is a possible looming famine amid the deterioration of the economic situation". 
Al-Awlaki believes that "the character of Ramadan has gradually disappeared. People lack real happiness without securing their needs. Ramadan puts much burden on many Shabwa people". 
Al-Awlaki indicated that "Some citizens preferred buying nearly-expired or poor-quality goods from "Bastat" (Recipes) [popular selling points]. He added that people know the poor quality of these commodities, but they buy them as they suit their purchasing capabilities.    
Professor of Sociology in Shabwa, Nasser Lashram, told "South24" that "Ataq markets are full of poor-quality goods and counterfeit commodities which have subsequent dire consequences on the consumers". 
"With the decline in the citizen's purchasing power, people buy their needs daily instead of buying them as a whole batch. Some families resort to austerity and rationalization as much as possible "He added.   
Al-Awlaki noted that the prices of goods in Ramadan are higher than at other times. He accused "many traders of exploiting this exact time to increase prices as they know that people will jostle for them at any price". 
In Aden, locals told "South24" that "they barely could prepare one or two meals" adding that” the conditions of people became extremely hard. Many families are no longer able to buy Ramadan needs". 
At a time in which some people could fill their daily hunger, thousands are unable to find an alternative solution for electricity". 
Electricity nightmare  

As for west of Mukalla in Hadramout, people of Mayfa' Hajar District suffer from electricity service. They have spent many years hoping for the electricity to return to alleviate some of their sufferings. 
Abu Bakr Mahmoud, a laboratory student from Hajar District told “South 24” that “every Ramadan, there is a revived hope about reconnecting the district with the electricity network. The return of the current has become our dream."  
People of this district, which is about 170 km from Mukalla, have relied upon solar energy since 2015 according to Mahmoud who added: “However, not everyone can access it like most people in this district have very low income and resort to candles and traditional methods”. 
In the city of Mukalla, things are totally different. The people of the city receive Ramadan amidst deep darkness. The daily electricity blackout period exceeds 20 hours while it is operated for 2 hours only”.   
The rising YouTuber, Mohammed Mohsen, from Hadramout told “South24”: “We are fed up with the repeated pretexts, the price hike and the failure of authorities. in every Ramadan, suffering increases and the excuses cylinder returns”.  

On the first day of Ramadan, spontaneous protests broke out in Mukalla against electricity blackouts. Some demonstrators were injured after being shot by the police who accused them of vandalism. 
Despite the solutions adopted by Hadramout authorities to get out of this yearly recurrent crisis, the governorate’s people believe they are late solutions and just “temporary relievers”.   
In Aden, authorities have resorted to opening outlets to sell food products and meat in several districts in the capital, backed by the Governor to alleviate people's suffering. This move has been welcomed by people as some of them could buy food goods at a relatively low price. 

After Ramadan? 

The sufferings of people increases more with Eid Al-Fitr approaching as the demands are growing to put more burdens on the citizen whose monthly income insufficient to secure a decent life for his family".  
Um Salem told “South24 '': “Fortunately, schools will begin after Eid Al-Adha. My helpless neighbor had to take her eldest son out of the Six Grade last year so that her young son could enter the First Grade”.  
The retired teacher believes that people began approaching a dangerous stage, whether to search for what they can eat or to expend this in other necessary things”.  
Southern areas have witnessed a wave of blatant price hikes regarding the basic goods amid the ongoing collapse of the local currency, lack of fuel and not receiving salaries. Moreover, traders refuse to sell goods by using Yemeni riyals and demand Saudi riyals or US dollars.    
The Yemeni Consultations, sponsored by the GCC, which concluded on Thursday in Riyadh, are supposed to produce solutions to the dire economic situation in the country. The failure to reach an agreement about this file could lead to new frustrations for the poor families.  

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced the provision of three billion dollars in support to the Yemeni economy. This coincided with the decision to transfer power in Yemen to a Presidential Council.

Abdullah Al-Shadli
a journalist at South24 Center
- Photo: From the Ramadan tent for foodstuffs subsidized by the local authority in Aden (A24)

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