This year’s Ramadan has also fallen at a time when Yemen is facing a severe cholera epidemic, with the World Health Organization
estimating there have been more than 530 deaths and more than 65,000 suspected cases of cholera
Mohamed al-Mokhdari, a father of 10 who lives in Sanaa, says he is thankful that his children have not caught cholera but unhappy with the overall situation facing Yemenis during the holy month.
“Ramadan is a special time. Unfortunately, I am not feeling the bliss I used to feel prior the war’s breakout in Yemen … Prices of food items are high and money is hard to earn here,” Mokhdari told Al Jazeera, gently stroking his grey beard.
In order to cope, two of his young children have started to collect plastic bottles off the streets and sell them to recycling plants, earning a few dollars a day. Mokhdari himself is unemployed, and the family cannot afford lavish Ramadan feasts; their daily iftar often comprises little more than yoghurt and bread.
“It is difficult. We barely find the basics, rice and bread. Eating meat, chicken and enough vegetables and fruits has become a dream this Ramadan,” he said. “Gone are the days when Ramadan used to have a special taste in my house and everyone’s in Yemen.”
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Abdulatif al-Hubaishi, the owner of a grocery shop in Sanaa, said that the demand for food items from his store has been very low this Ramadan.
“There has been a nearly 50 percent decrease in demand compared with last year,” Hubaishi told Al Jazeera. “Even those coming to the store mainly buy sugar, flour and rice. Other items, like sweets, nuts and vegetables, are not in demand because the people can only afford the basics.”
The flocks of shoppers that have been drawn to markets during previous Ramadans have disappeared, as most families no longer have enough money to buy what they need, he added.
“This Ramadan is unprecedented,” he said. “This is the third Ramadan in wartime in Yemen. It is the toughest because salaries of government employees have been withheld for around nine months. Annually, people in Yemen spend more in Ramadan; this year, they have nothing to spend.”
Yemeni economist Saeed Abdulmomin agreed that circumstances have become particularly dire this year.
“Salaries are unpaid, prices have soared and businesses are stagnant,” he told Al Jazeera, noting that the ongoing slide in the value of Yemen’s currency has exacerbated the situation. “The persistent fall of the Yemeni rial against the dollar leads to price hikes, which is a source of agony for the poor across the country.”
Although Ramadan will last just one month, it is unclear how much longer Yemen’s quagmire will drag on.
source : Al jazeera