The Al-Hamadi family, who escaped their hometown in Yemen’s Han Mountain during airstrikes, are now in Taiz, a city besieged by fierce fighting between pro-government forces and rebels.
The unpredictable and violent attacks have made it nearly impossible for anyone to get in or get out, leaving many families trapped.
“We used to cry and hide from the bullets,” said Doaa Al-Hamadi, the oldest of three daughters. “We would be eating and bullets would be fired around us.”
The war in Yemen between pro-government forces, backed by Saudi Arabia, and Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, has been raging since 2015.
It has devastated the poorest Arab country, leaving Yemen now on the brink of famine.
Calling it the world’s “largest humanitarian crisis,” the U.N. estimates that at least 150,000 malnourished children could die if left untreated, as a military blockade prevents humanitarian aid from reaching people.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a U.S. aid organization, says one child younger than 5 dies in Yemen every 10 minutes from preventable causes.
Doaa Al-Hamadi’s father, AbdulLatif Al-Hamadi, was a construction worker. Her mother, Montaha Al-Hamadi, used to graze animals and, at times, sell henna to cover their basic expenses before the war changed their lives.
“Alhamdulillah!” said AbdulLatif Al-Hamadi, using the common Arabic phrase for “Thank God,” as he remembered older days. “We lost everything and we gained nothing in return.”
The family’s makeshift home doesn’t have a door — only a blanket hangs in its place — and a pile of bricks in the windows help with privacy and protection. There’s no power and no heat.
“When it is cold, we are helpless,” Montaha Al-Hamadi said.
Despite all of this, they say it’s still an upgrade from their previous hideouts.
And, even as they fight for survival, the parents try to send their daughters to school when it is safe, hoping that it will help them build a better life in the future.
“I fight for them to go to school and they are doing their best,” Montaha Al-Hamadi said.