Updated on 12 March 2018
Update on Yemen
On Tuesday 2nd June 2015, an update on the World Federation Yemen Appeal was given in Birmingham, UK. The transcript of the speech can be found below.
A transcript of his speech has been provided below:
Rabbi Shahri Sadri Wa Yasirli Wahlul Uktatum Minl Lisani Yafkahu Kawli
Respected Scholars, My Dear Elders, Brothers and Sisters
Khushali Mubarak to you all on the Wiladat of our 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi Sahebuz Zamaan (AJTFS).
My dear brothers and sisters, I have the unfortunate but important responsibility of briefing you all on the crisis that has engulfed our community in Yemen.
Our Community in Yemen is made up of approximately 700-900 community members. They have been settled there for over 200 years and are based in Aden, Sanaa, Mukalla and Hodayda. Whilst many of our community members were successful business people or professionals, the country has always suffered from endemic poverty, underdevelopment (including food insecurity, acute malnutrition and inadequate access to clean water and basic healthcare). Yemen, in short, is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Political strife has been a thing of the norm in Yemen but in March this year it boiled over into a fully-fledged civil war. Coalition air strikes, led by Saudi Arabia, compounded matters bringing about a climate of fear, desperation and sheer trauma. A country suffering from endemic poverty is now going through unbearable pain.
The United Nations has revealed that so far over 800 civilians have lost their life; 546,000 people are internally displaced and over 12 million people (half the population) are under direct threat of starvation.
Our community there is no different. In fact our community for years has suffered from direct, systematic persecution. Our aim at the start of the conflict was to provide financial assistance but that quickly dissipated when the conflict became unbearable. Our community suffered from direct
Threats, injuries and killings and with targeted human rights violations.
They faced and continue to face persecution on the grounds of their religion (as Shia Ithna Asheris) and their identity (due to their Indian descent). Our community has no protection due to having no political affiliation.
They requested, The World Federation to carry out an evacuation.
The most affected were the Momineen from Aden, the epicentre of the war. Incidentally, our community members from Aden mainly reside in the Crater Area which has now been reduced to rubble.
After several attempts, 4 buses were arranged to evacuate Momineen from there on 12 th April and bring them to safer port of Hudayda. There, they awaited a vessel to get them out of the country. The Momineen were accommodated at a local hotel for over a week whilst preparations were made to send a vessel to evacuate them to a safer destination.
On Tuesday 21 st April 2015, a Sambuk (traditional wooden sailing Dhow) led by Al Haj Sajjad Rashid of Mombasa and his team of 5 volunteers, left the shores of Djibouti equipped with life jackets, food and medicines. The Dhow (known as a Sambuk) reached Hodayda after 30 hours at sea. After port clearance, a total of 252 members of our Yemeni Community together with 13 members of the Kenyan Yemeni Community boarded the ship. They reached Djibouti during the early hours of the 25 th April 2015.
As the situation in Yemen worsened, there was a further request to The World Federation to rescue the remaining Momineen of Aden and in other parts of Yemen.
On 10th May 2015, a further convoy of buses were sent to Aden to evacuate the remaining members. Simultaneously, a bus also left Sanaa for Hudayda on the same day and together with Momineen from Hudaydah itself, a total of 204 Momineen awaited evacuation from Yemen.
On Wednesday 20th May 2015 (in the evening), the Sambuk once again left the shores of Djibouti together with a team of 6 volunteers, again left by Al Haj Sajjad Rashid. The ship reached Hudayda during the early hours of Friday 22nd May. After port clearance, the 204 Members of our community safely boarded the ship. They reached Djibouti during the early hours of Sunday 24 th May 2015.
We now have a total of 456 Community Members accommodated in Djioubti under The World Federation auspices awaiting re-settlement. The UNHCR has granted our community members Prima Facie Refugee Status and The World Federation has undertaken detailed interviews with each family. We are now working with sovereign governments on re-settlement and please on this night let us pray for success inshAllah, in this endeavour.
It is important at this juncture to pay tribute to the wonderful volunteers that have led mission. From the wonderful core team of seasoned community workers who managed the mission, to the volunteers on the ground in Djibouti and across the world. Over 100 volunteers have taken part. From Birmingham I want to especially thank Rizwan Moledina, Gulamraza Datoo, Fatim Bandali and Taufiq Jivraj all of whom flew to Djibouti to assist our community members. Abbas Akbar has spent a huge number of hours on this and Rizwan Bandali has also assisted a great deal. All the volunteers gave up their valuable time and we must thank them for their spirited and unrelenting efforts.
When I witness the efforts of the volunteers, I re-call the Ayah of the Holy Quran Al Imran 3:92 – Bismillah – ‘Lan Tanalul Birra Hatta Tunfiqu Mimma Tuhibbun’ where Allah (SWT) explains that one cannot achieve righteousness without spending that which one loves. Surely the most precious commodity for us is time – and we must thank the volunteers for giving up their time to answer the plea of help from our brothers and sisters.
Personal Accounts of the Tragedy
My Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am sure you can appreciate the colossal amount of effort that has taken place but also the huge amount of work that now needs to be done in order to re-settle, re-house and re-establish our community members who have lost everything.
I was brought to tears when I read the tormenting accounts of what our brothers and sisters went through.
One brother from Aden, only 26 years old’s form read : ‘I have been called all the time at Rafidi. In Aden before I left a group came to me and told me they will kill me. I was very scared, they shot in the air and began hurting me. I had to start doing Takiya to live my life. Without evacuation I would not have survived. They killed my friends – by bombings and another by sniper. If I didn’t have their beard they would kill me.’
Another one, also from Aden read: ‘ We had 2-3 pieces of land which we lost. Our house was attacked, windows broken. Our door was marked with ‘Rafidi’ and they threatened to kill us soon.’
‘ A boy was shot in the neck, I took him to the hospital. My sunni neighbour told me it was halal to kill me – he threatened me.’
Another from Aden ‘ I witnessed random shooting and a lot of shelting. My nephew was killed. My office and my house were both bombed.’
Another account stated: ‘ My house was totally destroyed as it was in between two fighting groups. My cousin’s husband was killed in a car bomb. We are being threatened, all I see is dead bodies in the streets.’
And a last one for tonight as I hate to go on: ‘ I went out, when I came back my house was bombed, my family gone. All that is left is rubble. I couldn’t find my wife or my children until today….I was left wailing in the street.’
The aim of my talk today was not only to share with you the trauma that our Brothers and Sisters have suffered, the violence which they have endured and seen first-hand, but to also ask you for your assistance. The World Federation has set up a fund, so please do donate generously.
They are out brothers and sisters and so it is our duty to help them in this hour of need. Imagine, this happening to our relatives. The grief, the shock, the post-traumatic trauma they are suffering is immense.
They have left everything behind with their belief in Allah (SWT) and the promise of our support and generosity so that they can soon be self-sufficient once again.
Such disasters have left a telling mark on our community. The expulsion from Idi Amin’s Uganda to the crisis in Somalia some decades ago. Like before, we need to come together to demonstrate the Khoja community’s resolve, determination and above all unity.
Therefore, on this grand night let us make a firm resolution to help our Momineen brothers of Yemen in every manner possible.
Wassaalmun Alaykum Wa Rahmtullahi Wa Barakathu.
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