The Infrastructure in Taiz ... Indescribable Destruction
Tariq weeps outside of destroyed residential building in Taiz he had been living in. (Photographer: Correspondent #14)
by Correspondent #14 - Correspondent (Taiz), March 2, 2016
Eleven months of the conflict where its aftermath has destroyed our humanity, which has always been in the eye of this storm, as well as the civil and social infrastructure and service, productivity and extractive sectors. Even the Yemeni economy turned into a war economy, a priority in its need to provision basic materials.
Yemen, which had been called the happy country, is no longer the case today because of what it has seen from a war, with its duration approaching the end of a first year and a month and a few days. The time that has passed seems not sufficient to convince the parties of the conflict that it is a time to stop and listen to the sound of mind and peace. Negotiations of peace which were to be made in January 2016, has been postponed to an unspecified date. The lack of negotiation makes the door open for the continuation of a war which has claimed thousands of dead, wounded people and destroyed civilian infrastructure and private and public property .(editor’s note: the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville, on Jan 5, 2016, voiced particular concern at the situation in the central city of Taiz, scene of virtually uninterrupted violent clashes for more than eight months).
Dreamy Taiz "as its citizens like to describe it" has had a substantial share of this conflict. In recent months, the war has left the besieged city of Taiz with massive destruction of civilian infrastructure and residential areas, which has reduced the city backwards in time and capacitated it with economic burdens which will need decades to be able to overcome the effects according to experts and specialists. The shelling and bombing of neighborhoods and residential areas, with various types of heavy weapons, as well as fierce battles, has completely stricken large areas of Taiz into desolate areas. Some official estimates indicate that upwards of 75% of homes in Hawd Alashraf, Alhsb, Almnakh, and Berarh neighborhoods and Sixty Street are either fully devastated or uninhabitable which made the international recognized government, of current President Hadi, during the past few weeks declare Taiz as a stricken governorate, but this announcement was not followed by any formal steps on the ground to help the people of the city get out or mitigation of their plight.
A destroyed residential block in Taiz
There are no accurate estimates for the damage. The Yemeni government is pressed hard to put an estimate on the size of the devastation in Taiz. Often it is based on its own resources, media and social networking sites. There is no precise documentation, or picture and details, but there is agreement that what happened and is happening in Taiz is a humanitarian and economic catastrophe by all conventional standards. Some unofficial sources estimated the total damage and losses to Yemen as a whole until the end of 2015 at $85 billion (USD). This number will not stop from rising as long as the blockade is applied and continuous armed conflict.
Residential homes destroyed in Taiz by shelling
The satellite application program, UNITAR, of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research published satellite images revealing the extent of damage to buildings and infrastructure in the cities most affected by the war, namely Sana'a, Aden, Taiz and Saada. UN Institute Bureau official in one of his statements said that, according to the analysis of the initial satellite images, they have identified, from the start of war in March to May 2015, at least 328 buildings destroyed in the city Taiz. In addition to public and private structures, also destroyed were markets, roads, bridges, schools in whole or in part and health centers. The UN official said 33 medical facilities in four cities have been identified as in danger of being hit, where within 100 meters there are buildings damaged or destroyed by bombing and fighting.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also expressed deep concern about the fighting and indiscriminate shelling of residential neighborhoods in Taiz which is exposing civilian infrastructure to destruction.
It is difficult to get official statements about estimates of educational institutions which have been damaged or destroyed but some reports, such as one issued by the Houthi militia in the capital Sana’a, indicate that over 1634 schools were partially or fully destroyed, as well as 44 professional and technical institutes and six universities.
Salem is a teacher in one of the schools in east Taiz. He told us the public schools have turned into shelters or training camps for fighters. It is generally believed that more than 90% of the schools are no longer able to open their doors to students.
Dr.Fawzi worked in Taiz university. He said, “Some of the buildings in Taiz University have been exposed to artillery shelling from pro-Hadi government forces. It is still under the control of the Houthi militia and has become an arms cache. Private universities are also subjected to heavy losses in buildings and equipment."
Exterior damage from shelling to a secondary school in Taiz (Citizen cell photo)
T. Mohammed worked in a professional and technical institute in Taiz. He also talked about the stationing of Houthi militia fighters in three branches of professional and technical institute (Alhwban, Almror and Hayfan) of the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training that led to the targeting by the Saudi-led coalition forces and the exposure of its contents to which are estimated at more than a million dollars for plunder and theft.
For athletes in Taiz there is only one club, Alsaqr. Most athletes were trained in it. Alsaqr club is in west of Taiz, but the club too was bombed in midst of the armed conflict.
With the continuation of the conflict, Yemeni Ministry of Health, a follower of the Houthi militia, issued statistics that show number of losses and human casualties and infrastructure. In the report, it says 110 hospitals were targeted, 232 health units, 2 oxygen factories and 61 car ambulances.
D / Yasser is a doctor in Al-Thawrah Hospital. He said, "I do not have accurate numbers but I think that more than 95 hospitals and health clinics in Taiz were closed either for reasons of violence or lack of oil derivatives and medicines."
Mohammed S. told us, "I had been injured in my hand by gunfire and I was transferred to Al-Thawra hospital. When I entered into the operating room, artillery shells fell. Everyone (patients and doctors) in hospital were afeard. Some people died. It was a panic day. I cannot forget it."
Exterior damage from shelling to a building in Al-Gomhore Hospital (Cell photo from Fatma)
The war in Taiz threw its repercussions on the trade, industry and private sectors. The private sector in Yemen contributed more than half of GDP, about 65% of total investments, according to official pre-war government statistics. Most of institutions and factories exposed to destruction, sabotage, theft, looting and extortion by armed groups which led to the flight of most of the capital outside Yemen and an exodus of national industries.
A fire at one of the factories in Alhsb area of western Taiz lasted four days, and residents and firefighters could not extinguish the fire because it occurred in the area of the clashes. The columns of smoke affected the residents of the surrounding areas, including children, and resulted in a rise in respiratory illnesses.
Smoke from a fire at a factory in Alhsb area of Taiz (Citizen cell photo)
In this context, a director of one of banks in Taiz, whom asked not to be named, told us, “We are exposed to threats, extortion and forced to pay protection money to the parties to protect our facilities or we are otherwise will be exposed to theft, looting or bombing”.
M.N was angry and he said, “the Samsung agency where in Gamal Street had been broken into and all its contents looted, although the region is under the control of the Popular Resistance. There is no difference between the two parties. All [armed] parties should leave away from us and let us live in safe and security.”
Muhammad is a worker in a well-known company in east of Taiz. He told us, “I present my company's card to the Houthi militia in order to allow us to cross and go to work and return to my home. The company's directors pay a sum of money to the parties and if they are late in paying, they prevent the workers from crossing the street to the company.
Damaged residential block with collapsed building on its side in Taiz
The statistics which were issued from the Road Maintenance Office cited the damage which occurred on the network of roads and bridges. It revealed 29 roads damaged (842 km) and 34 bridges were totally or partially destroyed. In addition to these damages, included damage to the headquarters of the General Corporation for Roads and Bridges and associated warehouses and equipment in various regions of Yemen, including Taiz.
The historic Al-Qahira Citadel (also known as Cairo Castle) is one Yemen’s prominent archaeological and historical landmarks. The citadel was bombed and substantially damaged from an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on May 12, 2015, and subsequent shelling.
: Image of the Bombing of Al-Qahira Citadel on May 12, 2015 in Mostashfa Alsowany area (Citizen cell photo)
Sawsun is an older woman, she said, “my house is next to Cairo's historic Citadel. When rockets and bombs fell on it, my house was shaking, window glass and door was damage and ground and emeries fell from the Citadel's mountain on our houses, damaging some houses."
The National Museum of Taiz was reduced to ashes after being shelled on January 30, 2016 by the Houthi Militia whom accused the Popular Resistance of using the museum to shelling Houthi positions.
The power plant was destroyed by the Houthi militia, so power supply for the governorate of Taiz stopped more than nine months ago, which resulted in cutting the water supply to residents of Taiz.
Mixed residential / commercial building destroyed in Taiz
Press reports said 2 million residents in the Taiz governorate were suffering from lack of water, while thousands of others in need of urgent medical care. According to the same reports, the 1.5 million residents in the governorate are suffering from food insecurity, with 13 million citizens suffering from the same problems in the country in general. Previous numbers are only part of a very moving suffocating crisis experienced by Taizian families in various fields which they are alone and trapped by the Houthi militia.
Kamel is one of the citizens of Taiz, He said, “There is cutting off electricity for all inhabitants and areas of Taiz, which will entail also water cuts for hundreds of thousands of Taizians. Water is a serious problem in Taiz. International and local organizations have published reports of mindboggling number of water tanks but it does not reach us. Kuwait Watering project which sponsored by the State of Kuwait, some people told us that they gave to our region 6 water tanks a day, but what we receive is one water tank on every 3 days. They told us to follow Kuwait office but no office here we do not know whom we complain to."
The Aldabab facility "Sdd Algblin", a state-owned natural gas facility, was targeted by shelling, which led to its complete destruction. A spokesperson declared that 65 thousand cylinders of cooking gas had been destroyed due to the fall of one of the shells which caused the outbreak of massive fires, explosions in the cylinder of cooking gas store and left a smoke cloud dense in the sky of Taiz. That led to a crisis and high price of cylinder gas to 600%.
A residential home in Taiz destroyed by shelling
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology estimated the losses which the telecommunications industry has incurred by tens of billions [riyals], while the total number of targeted networks and communications towers rose to 190 towers and network connections in a number of governorates including Taiz.
Slama is a 50 year old woman. She talked being sad about her phone landline. “It was cut off for more than seven months. I cannot communicate with my relatives. My eldest son lives in Saudi and I can't hear his voice. I am sure my son calls to my telephone but the line was destroyed”, she said
Mohammed is one of active youths in the neighborhood. He said, "We need dozens of years to recover, after events of war have ended, which devastated neighborhoods in the city as uninhabitable at minimum, everything is destroyed, homes, schools, electricity and telecommunications networks, even the conscience of surviving was destroyed.”
Ahmad outside of destroyed residential building in Daboa area, Taiz left uninhabitable by shelling
To talk about what a Yemeni crisis caused by destruction at the level of State institutions or at the level of personal properties, we will find ourselves in front of unimaginable numbers caused by the violence which made destruction to a level that only other countries' efforts could now rebuild the demolished. Also what if we consider that the conflict does not stop! We talk here about warplanes, missiles, shells, as well as a variety of other weapons used by all combatants of the conflict. I think the size of the losses has not reached its maximum. There is more than 70 percent of Taiz devastated along with dozens of giant enterprises.
Dreamy city (Taiz) is turned to home of epidemics and daily theater of death with the hands of the Houthi militia, Saudi-led coalition aerial bombardment and diseases are growing in force, amid official international silence, and amid a lack of an operational health sector in Taiz, which has forced many of the hospitals and health centers to close their doors, which means a worsening of the tragedy and opened the door wide to die daily due to these diseases and growing threat of spread of epidemics.
A residential home in Taiz demolished
Everyone should pay attention to Taiz, because they live the worst humanitarian crisis which was passed to them all, and the human numbers and reports are still in dire straits and onfolding in the largest Yemeni populated governorate.
The citizens of Taiz are simply awaiting their turn at death.
Taizian citizens walking through streets with blood soaked stains of those whom have perished before them in Daboa area