Animals are forgotten victims of crisis in war-torn Yemen
As violence continues to engulf Yemen, millions of people suffer from food and medicine shortages, with more than 130,000 dead in the civil war.
But it’s not just the people who are suffering in what has been called the world’s worst human-caused humanitarian crisis – the country’s animals are also facing their own form of brutality.
In March 2020, as another wave of rockets hit Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, more than 70 purebred Arabian horses were left for dead in raided stables at the military college, the Ataa Initiative said. environment and animal welfare.
About 30 of the graceful creatures were injured in the attack. Members of Ataa, a group founded just two months earlier, rushed to the horses’ rescue.
The animal-loving group and a veterinarian have since cared for Sana’a’s animals, whether injured in the ongoing civil war or abused.
âThe initiative was created by ten animal-loving people in response to the increased violence against animals who are helpless and cannot defend themselves against abuse,â said Zahra Haid, 29, founder of Ataa. The National.
The group relies on its 3,500 Facebook subscribers for reports of animals in distress.
âOnce we receive notifications of an ailing animal, we visit it immediately and provide treatment and care, under the direction of our volunteer veterinarian,â Zahra said.
Magdy Al Ameri, the initiative’s volunteer veterinarian, said he saved around 90 animals from various injuries, not including those that did not survive.
âTraffic accidents and cat and dog runovers are the most common cases that I deal with almost daily, as well as fractures and bleeding from beating the animal with stones or sharp tool, âsaid Dr Al Ameri. “This is in addition to performing some surgeries such as complex births and cases of animals that have been directly slaughtered.”
Zaher said the initiative raises awareness of the need for compassion towards animals, which she said is “an integral part of the Islamic faith.”
Neglect of animals is a common practice in many countries in the Arab world due to lack of awareness.
Group member Arwa Gamal, 27, said the Facebook page is also being used to find homes to adopt stray puppies and kittens.
âLately we have received more and more interest from our subscribers to welcome kittens and puppies that we post articles on our page,â she said. The group keeps track of adopted animals to ensure they are taken care of.
Groups forced to close
One of the main challenges facing the group is that of war-related security threats. Zahra said the group had previously been told a dog was bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound.
She said the animal was left to suffer for hours as the area it was in was the subject of an intensive airstrike, preventing members of the group from reaching it. When they finally did, they quickly offered first aid and rushed out for fear the raids would resume, she said.
The shortage of veterinarians and the absence of an integrated and qualified veterinary clinic with the latest technical capabilities, as well as high drug prices, are other challenges the group faces, Zahra said.
Limited funding is also a problem.
âIn a country facing serious economic and financial difficulties and with reduced wages for Yemeni employees for years, resources are very limited,â Zahra said. She said the humble contributions of the initiative’s members are what keeps it afloat.
âAt first we encountered a disapproving point of view from some people who argued that humans should be given priority for any help or support, rather than animals. Now, thank goodness the awareness has increased, âshe said.
She said some who cannot afford to provide direct financial support accept helpless animals on the streets. Some families regularly offer leftover food to stray animals on their streets.
Funding shortages have led to the closure of similar groups in other parts of Yemen.
âFinancial funding is the biggest obstacle facing any initiative. The country, exhausted by a bitter war, has led many emerging organizations and initiatives to shut down, âsaid Soha Hassan, 28, founder of the Al Salam Initiative for Animal Welfare in the southern town of Lahg. .
His initiative, which operated between 2019 and 2020, looked after animals and carried out awareness campaigns in schools and public spaces.
Galal Al Amrawi, who was the general secretary of a registered company that operated in Aden for two years, agrees. Mr Al Amrawi’s group has closed due to lack of funding, but he still offers stray animal care as part of the academy he founded to train dogs in explosives detection and drugs.
âIt is essential to have ongoing funding for any initiative so that it does not end at some point,â he said.
This article was written in collaboration with Egab.
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Update: December 19, 2021, 3:00 a.m.