Children, Yemen and the bombs built in Italy: the story of a distant country that also affects us


If you had a choice, which country would you have your child born in?

Yemen is the rectangle of the world south of the Arabian Peninsula that the Romans called Saudi Felix. Today he is not happy about it. It is one of the worst places to be a child: its little ones do not laugh but die of malnutrition or carry weapons; its riches do not enlighten those who live there, but blind those who fight for them in a conflict that has become proxy, i.e. delegate. What does it mean? And why should we care? Laura Silvia Battaglia al-Jalal, a reporter from Catania, who spoke about Yemen from the inside on national and international media, on the occasion of the meeting “Yemen, a look at the country”, organized by the NEMO-In-Forma Association. Citt @ as part of the welcome project “A Community for a Family”.

A UNIQUE COUNTRY. This is not just the country that gave our coffee machine its name: until recently, ships loaded with good coffee traveled from Mocka, a Yemeni port on the Red Sea, to fill our mokes. “Yemen – specifies Battaglia – is also the only republic on the Arabian Peninsula and the only country in the area to sign the UN Refugee Convention”, guaranteeing hospitality, even in war, to those fleeing violence, such as the Somalis. Because in this part of the world it’s hard to say who is worse off. A conflict has torn the country since 2014, condemning more and more children to lose their childhood innocence with consequences that also threaten our part of the world.

Bāb el-Mandeb Strait

SECURITY. “This war – explains Battaglia – arises from the opposition between the north and the south of the country, irritated by the Arab sources, which did not bring the hoped-for improvement”. Here, too, the protests were lacking in a joint project. But today it is not only about internal disputes. “This war – adds the reporter – is actually a kaleidoscope of international geopolitical rivalries”. In fact, about 5% of the world’s oil supply passes through the Bāb el-Mandeb Strait, nearly 5 million barrels per day, on its way to Europe (2.8 million), the Middle East and Asia (2 million). It is easy to understand why more diverse powers such as the US, France, UK, Egypt, Iran and North Korea (to name a few) are interested in the area. Including jihadist terrorism, which, starting with al-Qaeda militants, finds supporters in chaos and misery. The Queen of Sheba’s splendid reign thus risks becoming a culture of international violence.

“According to a 2016 contract alone, 4,000 bombs left Italy”

CONSISTENCY. Crude oil is not the only interesting commodity passing through Yemen: the sale of arms helps to stabilize the conflict. “According to a 2016 contract alone, 4,000 bombs left Italy – says the journalist section of Sipri, a body that investigates the sale of weapons -. But this market is a matryoshka that is difficult to block: an American company based in Great Britain films ; another based in Europe and manufacturing elsewhere takes care of the bomb body. The components reach their destination from different places to be assembled on site “. “What is certain – adds the reporter – is the effect that this traffic has on the population. There are those who justify this by claiming that arms factories create jobs, like the factory in Sardinia. But do we really have to produce bombs to work? For some workers, we have lost at least 200 people who worked between Yemen and Italy to employ itself with restoration. What is more beautiful to be a leader of art or of horror? ». A question arises: Italy rejects war, but also war at home?

The old city of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen and one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world

HUMANITY. To make the picture sadder, malnutrition: at the Abs hospital alone, from 2016 to 2021, cases of children under 5 went from 68 to 3,316. If they could, Yemeni mothers would choose another country for their children. Why isn’t the birth rate going down? The women drive, they are surgeons and office workers, but their condition has worsened», explains Battaglia. “It is clear that many do not want to become pregnant during war. For six months, a law has prohibited them from buying contraceptives without a male relative.” Early marriages are also important. “A measure was about to ban them, but eventually it slipped into oblivion. I will not forget the pain of a man who had to give his daughter in marriage to pay for his wife’s dialysis, once for free. In very depressed areas, women and children are economic assets: the child works and fights, the woman is the womb of new fighters’. Battaglia’s words are firm and moving. “This is not a forgotten conflict, but an unspoken one. What can we do? Inform us – comments Battaglia -. And try to empty this sea with our shell”.

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