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Getting back to work in northern Yemen

Posted by Amal Alariqi Communication and Information Officer, Yemen

14th Dec 2011

In Northern Yemen, tens of thousands of people remain displaced since fighting erupted between tribal groups in 2009. Amel Alariqi, Oxfam's Communications officer in Yemen, reports on how Oxfam is helping people who have lost their livelihoods in the conflict to start working again.

"We arrived here with empty hands, the air strikes destroyed my house, killed my livestock, and we lost everything. Thank God I survived with my kids, and my father'' explains Ahmed, 55, while sitting in his tent in Al Mazraq camp, which is home to over 11,000 displaced people.

Like many, Ahmed and his five kids, fled their home when conflict erupted back in 2009, and took refuge in Al Mazraq camp.

Ahmed, who is the main breadwinner, used to be a construction worker in Thuib village, western Sada'a, an area which has witnessed years of protracted conflict between tribal groups and state forces.

"Like many displaced people who arrived here having lost their assets and homes, I was very concerned and afraid about my family's future."

For three years Ahmed's family were dependent on aid from humanitarian organizations and the pitiful daily income from working in the fields. With support from Oxfam, Ahmed was able to rebuild his lost livelihood through valuable skills training in the form of carpentry. For camp residents, this training has provided new hope of employment in the camps - women have been equipped with sewing machines and are now working as tailors, while men are carving furniture for a steadily expanding market.

Mazen Saif, Oxfam's livelihood office in the camp explains; "Oxfam ensured that people involved in the project were linked up with new business opportunities. We also gave additional materials and marketing support to those who had been particularly successful in order to help motivate and inspire business growth."

For Ahmed, this training has helped him to secure extra income for his family, and send his two young sons to high school.

"I've always believed that education and training are the best ways to ensure an income and a decent life." Ahmed explains, "That's why, I received this carpentry training and I'll do my best to ensure my son will receive the highest education.''

Ahmed's skills as a carpenter are in high demand. He has been booked for months of work by camp residents who are trying to start a new life.

"Of course I cannot compete with the market outside the camp, as I don't have sophisticated machinery", Ahmed smiles, "However, I've established a good market inside the camp, as most of the residents are able to pay a reasonable price for my products.''

Oxfam's work in Yemen

Blog post written by Amal Alariqi

Communication and Information Officer, Yemen

More by Amal Alariqi