News Room / Press Releases
British Yemenis return to birthplace to support suffering families
14 June 2012
There are 100,000 displaced people in Yemen
"We don’t want people in Britain to look at suffering and go back to sleep! We have to help.” Zaid Hassan
An Islamic Relief delegation of British Yemenis are to visit Yemen on 17 June 2012 to see first-hand the effects of malnutrition and displacement in what was until recently a ‘hidden’ emergency in the Arab world’s poorest country. The group includes Islamic Relief supporters from London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Brighton and Sheffield who have helped raise £140,000 for the charity’s Yemen appeal.
The visitors will return with news of some of the ten million people suffering from lack of food and water – and the effects of having to leave their homes and live in shelters and schools – to the 80,000 strong Yemeni community in Britain.
Thirty-year-old Zaid Hassan, from Sparkhill in Birmingham, is one of the volunteer fundraisers who is making the trip. The funds that he and his fellow volunteers have raised were spent on 40 tonnes of emergency food distribution, clothes and medical equipment for Yemenis struggling to survive.
“We heard about all this killing, injured people coming from villages into towns, not enough to eat and no access to medical care, so we decided not to stand and watch. We had to act,” says Zaid, who works at charity Interpal and has two children.
Zaid and his community held bazaars, dinners and challenges to raise funds.
“Raising money is the best thing we could do for our brothers and sisters in Yemen. I want to come back with stories from children and their families to show at fundraising events. We don’t want people in Britain to look at suffering and go back to sleep! We have to help.”
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. It has extreme water scarcity, conflict and soaring food prices. Food and fuel prices have surged and Yemen’s malnutrition levels are among the world’s highest. In some parts of the country, one in three children is malnourished. Life is a daily survival struggle for millions, including 100,000 displaced by recent fighting and thousands of refugees from the Horn of Africa.
Islamic Relief is working in the Al Selo area, constructing and upgrading health centres and training medical staff. Families have been provided with clean drinking water – some for the very first time. Other projects provide food rations in towns and for people from remote areas. Islamic Relief also has an ongoing child sponsorship programme, which supports widows who can’t provide once the man of the family is dead. This project covers food, shelter, healthcare and education.
Zaid hopes to see his family, who live in Ta’izz near the Red Sea. “We are going to visit Islamic Relief’s projects, so we won’t have much time to visit, but I hope to give my mum a hug,” he adds.
Safiya Sayed Baharun on 020 7593 3241/07872 403534 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beverley Cohen on 07921 655272 (email@example.com).
Notes to Editors
1. Zaid Hassan will be accompanied by British Yemeni visitors from London, Liverpool, Sheffield and Brighton.
2. Islamic Relief, together with six other aid agencies, recently warned that Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food crisis (www.islamic-relief.org.uk, 23 May 2012)
3. Yemen was hit by political upheaval early in 2011 when protesters – inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings which toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt – rallied against the three-decades old rule of their president.
4. Islamic Relief is an international aid and development charity, which aims to alleviate the suffering of the world's poorest people. It is an independent non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded in the UK in 1984 by Dr Hany El Banna.
5. As well as responding to disasters and emergencies, Islamic Relief promotes sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities - regardless of race, religion or gender. Islamic Relief is also one of the 14 UK charities that form the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) – see http://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/AboutUs.aspx