A campaign has been launched to support Yemeni nationals stranded in Cairo, many of whom have been living on the streets since the suspension of flights to their country following the launch of airstrikes in the restive state.
The campaign hopes to raise financial support in order to provide food and shelter for the Yemenis of all ages who have been isolated in Egypt for around six weeks. Flights became suspended after the Saudi-led military campaign began launching airstrikes in Yemen in March.
The Yemeni-run campaign has contacted and documented the stranded nationals, and now hopes to organise an effective support system for them.
Ahmed Ragab, a Yemeni businessmen living in Cairo, is leading the support campaign. He told Daily News Egypt: “There are around 6,000 to 7,000 stranded Yemenis. The majority of them came here for medical reasons, planning only to stay for a week or two. When the war started, the airports closed, they soon began to run out of money and many are now living on the streets, having been kicked out of the places they were staying.”
“Hundreds have been staying outdoors in Mesaha Square in Dokki. The Yemenis living in Cairo began to help those stranded, such as by letting them stay in their house and feeding them, but the help has been on an individual basis,” said Ragab.
“I started to pay for people’s rent, starting with around 10 families, but the point of this campaign is to organise the support to cover everyone.” The businessman is in touch with other Yemeni businessmen and restaurants, seeking donations and food.
The stranded citizens, the majority of whom still have their plane tickets to return, have received little support from any official or governmental body.
“They are not like refugees from Syria or elsewhere, they want to go back. But the Egyptian government is also not considering them as refugees, they are ignoring the issue and not supporting them,” Ragab said.
The Yemeni Embassy in Dokki has also provided little support. “The officials working there have very little funds, they have not even received any salary for many months, so there is little they can do,” Ragab said. In previous interviews with Daily News Egypt and at protests, stranded Yemenis have claimed that Yemen’s Embassies in other countries have provided better support to return the nationals.
Over 1,400 people have died in the conflict in Yemen so far, primarily between the Saudi-led coalition supporting the previous government against Houthi rebels. The Saudi-led airstrikes have repeatedly struck airports in Aden, Hudaida and the capital Sana’a. A five day ceasefire is set to begin Tuesday, which could allow the transfer of aid to ease the suffering in the Arab world’s poorest country, where food, medicines and fuel are increasingly in short supply. Attempts to contact the Embassy in Cairo to establish whether flights will resume over the ceasefire were unsuccessful.
However, some of the stranded Yemenis have also faced hostility in Egypt. Commenting on a video that has been circulated on social media, Ragab confirmed that police last week kicked out the Yemenis who had been staying at Mesaha Square. Ragab believes that the clearance came at the request of local residents who complained about noise from chanting and protesting. “They removed them without offering any other place. Just get out and do whatever you want.”
“The most important thing about the campaign is to provide the stranded Yemenis a safe place to stay. After that, then we can also look at providing them with food, money and so on,” Ragab concluded.