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Foreigners Leaving Yemen as Fighting Intensifies

AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED HUWAIS

Yemeni security guards stand outside a hotel in Sanaa during a protest organised by local women's unions calling for more gender equality in decision making and for an end to the country's political crisis on February 19, 2015, before their meeting with UN Secretary General Advisor on Yemen Affairs, Jamal bin Omar. On February 6, Yemen's Shiite Huthi movement ousted the government and dissolved parliament, tightening their grip after Western-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi tendered his resignation in protest at their advance. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED HUWAIS

John Burger - published on 04/09/15

Vatican representative describes fearful scene in Arabian peninsula

As Houthi forces fought street-by-street battles with local militia in the old center of Aden, Yemen, on Wednesday, the Pope’s representative in the region told Aleteia that fear pervades the country.

"All people are suffering and in fear for their life," Bishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, told Aleteia’s Miriam Diez Bosch. 

Reuters reported Wednesday that the first boatloads of emergency medical aid reached the south Yemeni port city, which relief workers say faces a humanitarian catastrophe. 

The World Health Organization said that as of April 6 there have been 643 deaths and 2,226 injuries. “Heavy clashes in Aden and Al-Dhale’a are reported and the humanitarian situation is critical, with power cuts and water and fuel shortages further deteriorating the humanitarian situation. Sana’a and Hodeidah are also reporting severe shotages of fuel, creating challenges in the transportation of medicines and health supplies.”

"Someone in Aden told me, ‘I am sure, not even a Yemeni will be able to make out who is who in this conflict. One common factor is that all these groups have a gun—in varying size, shape, color and destructive capacity. It is not easy to identify the groups,’” said Bishop Hinder, who is based in Abu Dhabi. "All the inhabitants of whatever nationality or religion live in fear. This is understandable if we think of the experience reported by a friend: ‘So far I am safe … Of course there were frightening moments of rockets passing just above my taxi car, shooting and yelling around our church, sounds of bombs and rocket explosions within a range of 5 to 10 kilometers.’ One told me ‘about the number of people brought into the hospitals soaked in blood with bruises, wounds, either with or without hands, legs, heads.’”

Bishop Hilder said that "internal power struggles and interference from outside have led to the collapse of the state order and to a civil war" in what otherwise is a "wonderful country. "The Yemenis are fascinating people with a long and impressing history," he said.

Many of the Christians in the country are foreigners—mainly Indians and Filipinos—and are leaving. He said a person in Sana’a told him, “Almost all who go to the church will leave in the next two days, very few among these are staying on.”

Among those staying are Missionaries of Charity, who are caring for 360 seriously disabled persons in four cities. They are "determined to stay with the sick under all circumstances," the bishop said. "They are amidst the violence and cruelty of a civil war a sign of love, patience and reconciliation. Where hatred prevails, they continue to smile and give comfort to people who may not even realize what is going on."

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Christians in the Middle East
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