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Yemen’s winning World Press Photo

18 Feb
Samuel Aranda’s winning photo beat off competition from more than 100,000 other entries.
Samuel Aranda’s winning photo beat off competition from more than 100,000 other entries.

Fatima Al-Qaws, is the veiled woman cradling her wounded son after an anti-government demonstration in October. She is also one of the subjects in Samuel Aranda’s winning World Press photo.

Al-Qaws, who is from Ba’dan district in Ibb governorate but lives in Sana’a, explained that she only found out about the photo after her niece phoned from the UAE – though she still did not realize the significance of the picture.

“I thought that the photo people were talking about was actually my appearance in an interview on Suhail TV and Al-Jazeera some months ago, so I did not pay much attention to it,” she said, but her niece insisted it was her and her son.

Al-Qaws explained that she first saw the photo on her son’s mobile phone and recalled the day of October 15 on Al-Zubairy Street – a conflict line between anti-regime protesters and security forces at the time.

“It was after an attack against demonstrators on Al-Zubairy Street,” she said. “I went to the field hospital and did not see my son among the dead or wounded protesters. I checked the place again and saw my son lying on the ground suffocated with tear gas,” she explained. “So I embraced him and [Aranda] must have taken the photo at that moment.”

Her son, Zayed Al-Qawas, 18, said he thought it was a joke until more people called to tell him about Aranda’s picture.

“I did not expect this photo to win among thousands of pictures and it is a real support to the revolution,” he said. “It demonstrates that Yemenis are not extremists.”

Helping Yemen

The Spanish photographer’s photo, which was taken while on assignment for the New York Times, beat off competition from more than 100,000 entries to win one of the most prestigious photography awards on Friday.

The New York Times’ Lens Blog wrote that after hearing the news, Aranda called his mother in Spain, who cried for 45 minutes. He said that “while conversations might revolve around composition and form”, he hopes it will help the people of Yemen. He also commented on the help he received from Yemeni photographers – specifically mentioning Mohamed Al-Sayaghi of Reuters.

Aranda, who now lives in Tunisia, covered the Arab Spring from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. In December, he presented a selection of Arab Spring photos at the Spanish Embassy in Sana’a, alongside freelance photographer Lindsay Mackenzie.

‘An intimate moment’

Koyo Kouoh, one of the jury members on the World Press photo board, said: “It is a photo that speaks for the entire region. It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, for all that happened in the Arab Spring.

“But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement.”

Nina Berman, another World Press judge, added, “In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way, at such an intimate moment. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment – in moments like this.”

Yemeni photographers are also proud of Aranda’s achievement. “We feel proud of this photo because it is very important for the world to have a new impression of Yemen,” Nadia Abdulla, a freelance Yemeni photographer, said.

“The foreign media has been presenting Yemenis as terrorists but this is the first time Yemen’s beautiful and expressive side has been shown,” she added.

Setting the standard

The 2011 World Press Photo award is the 55th annual contest in what is universally recognized as the world’s leading photojournalism prize, setting the standard for the profession.

The contest draws entries by professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers from across the world, with 5,247 photographers from 124 countries participating this year and 101,254 pictures judged.

The jury awarded prizes to 57 photographers in nine themed categories, with the Arab Spring and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami both making a big impact.

All entries are presented and judged anonymously by 19 internationally recognized professionals over two weeks before the winners are announced.

Aranda will officially receive his World Press award in Amsterdam on Saturday, April. 21, 2012. The award also carries a cash prize of €10,000 and a Canon EOS Digital SLR Camera and lens kit.

An exhibition of the award-winning images will be open to the public at the Oude Kerk, Oudekerksplein, in Amsterdam on Friday, April 20, until June 17.

A worldwide tour of the exhibition will also be launched, covering a record 105 venues in 45 countries. Combined with a yearbook, distributed internationally in seven languages, the winning images will reach a worldwide audience of millions in the course of the year


Mobile medical team to benefit rural Yemen

18 Feb

USAID Assistant Administrator Mara Rudman (right), exploring the mobile medical vehicle with Dr. Jamila Al-Ra’ebi, Deputy Minister of Health and Population (left).

USAID Assistant Administrator Mara Rudman (right), exploring the mobile medical vehicle with Dr. Jamila Al-Ra’ebi, Deputy Minister of Health and Population (left).

Story and Picture by: Malak Shaher

SANA’A, Feb. 12 — Access to medical care is about to become easier for marginalized people and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) living on the outskirts of Sana’a, as mobile medical teams get back to work.

On Sunday, USAID said another of its mobile medical teams, run in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Population and the Yemeni Family Care Association (YFCA), would be returning to work in on the outskirts of Sana’a bringing better healthcare to the districts of Sanhan, Shoub and Bani Hareth.

The team, which will be serving marginalized residents in these areas, is one of 15 that USAID launched over the last year.

According to Mara Rudman, USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Bureau, the team will be providing health care services to 2,000 people a month.

The team will be providing health primary care, maternal and pediatric care, diagnosis, immunization and medications free of charge, added Rudman.

The clinic-on-wheels “will serve those living on the fringes of the city of Sana’a, as well as internally displaced persons who have sought refuge in the districts of Sanhan, Shoub and Bani Hareth,” said Rudman.

Much of the team’s work will involves providing first aid and health care to women and children, according to Nabil Alammari, YFCA executive manager.

Yemen has the highest infant mortality rate in the Middle East, with 37 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the UN. The maternal mortality rate is even higher at 47 out of every 1,000 mothers.

Alammari said that the team, which was unable to operate throughout 2011, is the third that USAID has supported. The previous two have been working in Hajja governorate, north of Sana’a.

The Yemen Family Care Association is a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, already operating seven mobile medical teams across different governorates.

According to the YFCA, the seven teams have helped more than 60,000 patients since it the scheme was established in 1976.

At the relaunch of the mobile medical service, Jamila Al-Ra’ebi, Deputy Minister of Health and Population, said, “The crises Yemen has gone through last year should make us work collectively to reduce the [maternal] mortality rate.”

She said that despite the fact that Yemen does not appear to be on target for its 2015 Millennium Development Goals, which include reducing infant mortality rates, improving literacy and reducing unemployment, the support it has received from international organizations such as USAID and the UN has helped women in remote, rural areas.

During 2011’s political crisis, only six of the 15 mobile medical teams were operating due to logistical issues and a lack of electricity. However, USAID said that all 15 would now resume work in Yemen’s remote and hard-to-reach regions.

Stronger rial leaves questions over exchange

15 Dec
The Yemeni rial dropped sharply in March due to the conflict but began gaining value again a few days ago.

Malak ShaherPublished:15-12-2011

SANA’A, Dec. 14 — The value of the Yemeni rial has rapidly increased in the last two days from 238 rials to 218 rials to the dollar, leaving some angry after losing thousands of rials in the exchange rate.

“I heard people saying that the value of the dollar was rapidly decreasing yesterday. I had a thousand dollars and I did not want to lose money,” said Asma Abdulla, a teacher, who had to exchange her money in a rush. Abdulla exchanged her one thousand for 220,000 YR instead of YR 237,000 the previous day.

Demand and supply variables caused the rapid increase in the value of the Yemeni rial. People started to exchange their saved dollars into Yemeni rials in a bid to beat any further losses. But the more people exchanged their dollars the more the value of the Yemeni rial increased.

In a press statement, the Studies & Economic Media Center said it had received complaints from people who tried taking dollars from their bank accounts, but their banks had not allow them to do so.

Local banks said that the Central Bank refused to provide them with hard currencies, especially dollars, during the last few days, according to the Marib2day website.

“The rapid increase of the Yemeni rial has made some people insecure and they want to exchange the dollars they have for rials at once,” said Mohammad Jubran, an accounting teacher at Sana’a University.

UK doubles aid to Yemen

2 Mar
Malak Shaher
Yemen Times

SANA’A, March 2 – The United Kingdom promised the Yemeni government on Wednesday to increase its aid to Yemen from GBP 46.7 million to 90 million (YR 31 billion) by 2015, said Joanna Reid, head of the British Department of International Development DFID in Yemen.

DFID Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced that 1.8 million people will have better access to basic services such as healthcare, water and education as a result in the increase in aid.

The bilateral aid committed by the UK government is intended to assist development in Yemen and will increase gradually in the coming four years.

The UK also asked that the Yemeni government endeavor to meet a series of goals, which include moving towards the holding of free and fair elections and promoting economic reform.

“We also continue to encourage political reform in Yemen and believe that holding free, fair and multi-party parliamentary elections are an important part of that reform,” said Reid. “We will continue to work with Yemenis to make such elections possible.”

Yemen is one of 13 countries that will be helped by the British Government to hold freer and fairer elections.

According to Reid, the UK government is “concerned about Yemen’s high level of unemployment” and that part of the additional development aid will target employment problems across the country. The investment in education and training will equip Yemenis with the skills necessary to find jobs domestically or in the wider Middle East.

“As a result of DFID’s increased support to Yemen, we estimate that an additional 38,000 Yemenis will be able to find work,” said Reid.

In terms of education, the aid will enable more than 55,000 children in all Yemeni governorates to go to primary school. DFID will support the Social Fund for Development, which spends around 40% of its investments on education, according to Reid.

According to the British Embassy, the UK government is committed to supporting Yemen in the long-term, as demonstrated by Britain’s decision to sign a 10-year Development Partnership Arrangement with Yemen in 2007. The Agreement includes commitments from both the UK and from Yemen. For example, the government of Yemen has pledged to produce a development plan for poverty reduction that also details a series of reforms. For their part, the UK has offered to help support the Yemeni government in achieving these reforms, as well as to urge further progress.

Yemen is one of 27 countries to be helped by the British government in the 2011-2016 period. The new strategy presented by Secretary Mitchell will aim at decreasing the infant mortality rate by 250,000 children, saving the lives of 50,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth, securing proper education for 11 million Yemenis and providing access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation

Yemen poorest women and children involved in six-year plan

28 Feb
The Ministry of Health project aims to help women and children in rural areas and provide family planning advice. Frequent pregnancy contributes to Yemen’s high child mortality rate.

Malak ShaherPublished:28-02-2011

SANA’A, Feb.27 – A six- year plan by the Yemeni Ministry of Health and Population will involve a million of Yemen’s poorest women and children from rural areas, according to Ali Jahaf, general manager of the Department of Family Health.

The project, approved by the World Bank, will cost USD 35 million and be implemented over the next six years.

“Yemeni women in remote areas need help,” said Jahaf. “The project will involve the poorest women and children in six governorates over the six coming years.”

According to the World Bank the child mortality rate in Yemen is 69 deaths to every 1,000 live births, the highest rate in the Middle East and North Africa region. Yemen also has the second-highest rate in the world of child malnutrition for height and age. Maternal mortality is the second highest in the Middle East with 210 deaths for each 1,000 live births according to 2008 figures.

The project will be initiated in the remote areas of Sana’a this year and extend to other areas with the highest concentration of poor health indicators. It will involve the governorates of Ibb, Reima, Al-Dhale’, Al-Baydha and the slums of Aden. The project will also including the remote areas of these governorates after the six years.

Jahaf said that the ministry aims to send small medical teams consisting of: a doctor, a midwife, social worker and a person to register their findings of the field visits.

The visits, which will be held four times a year, will target pregnant women and their children under the age of five and will provide them with basic medication, vaccinations and awareness campaigns for family planning, added Jahaf.

Building the minds of Yemen’s orphans

6 Dec
Orphans at Dar Al-Aytam read books in their new library, established on Thursday.

Malak Shaher

Yemen Times


“We are the seeds of this country, we will make our country prosper, we love knowledge and we spread love everywhere.”

With those words hundreds of orphans hailed the arrival of a new library to Dar Al-Aytam, a state funded orphanage in Sana’a. The children were listening to a song and as it drew to an end they said in one collective and excited voice, “I love books.”

The new library, established on Thursday, is part of the “I love my book” campaign, run by Global Change Makers, a British Council initiative.

This year, the campaign has targeted three public schools, one private school, a school for special needs students and the Orphan House in Sana’a, according to Elham Al-Quhali, a project assistant at the British council.

“We found that the children are thirsty for knowledge and reading,” Al-Quhali told the Yemen Times. “They want to be pushed forward and we want to continue this program. We urge other organizations to join forces with us.”

At the library’s opening, small boys were pushing each other and rushing to get inside the new library. Hamza Mohammad, 9, could barely contain his excitement. “These books are beautiful,” he said with a sparkle in his eyes. With books I learn new things.”

Mohammed Al-Shami, the head of Dar Al-Aytam, stressed the significance of this ‘generous gift.’

“This library has added greatly to our school, which now contains many more subjects for learning,” Al-Shami said. “With the establishment of this library, our orphans will occupy a place in others minds. People will be able to imagine them reading.”

The campaign is coordinated by young members of Global Changemakers and financed by the British council.

Global Changemakers formed in 2007, is a British Council initiative, aimed at providing support for young social entrepreneurs and community activities.

“Books build the minds of small children,” said Haitham Al-Thobabi, 22, a member of the Global Changemakers.

The campaign also involves establishing a reading club and targeting schools and the publishing of a quarterly magazine. The magazine will consist of the children’s writings and be distributed in the schools and supporting organizations.

It will create cooperation between teachers at the school libraries where students will be introduced to new books and encouraged to read.

“Most children in Yemen are not used to reading and the only books they do read belong to the school,” said Najeba Haddad, Yemen’s deputy minister of culture.

Illiteracy rates are increasing among small children in Yemen, according to a recent report by the Yemeni Shura Council. Around two million children are not enrolled in school and a large number of students drop out during their early years of schooling in order to work to support their families.

According to Hadad, it is important to instill a motivation to read in children from a young age who otherwise wouldn’t develop this important habit.

“I encourage the efforts of such campaigns because they involve more children and make reading interesting for them,” she added.

Boys and girls sing a song about the importance of reading at the library opening day.  TY photo by Malak Shaher

Six NGOs receive funding to combat qat consumption

16 Aug
Malak Shaher
Yemen Times


SANA’A, 10 August — Hana Al-Adimi, 28, head of the Third Eye Center, expressed her happiness as she obtained funding to combat qat consumption.

Qat is a leaf  containing an amphetamine-like stimulant that produces a burst of energy and  euphoria. Many Yemeni men and women spend their afternoons on qat breaks. The cultivation of the plant sucks up 30 percent of the country’s water supply used in irrigation. 90 percent of the water in Yemen used for that purpose.

The Third Eye Center and five other non-government organizations are being funded by the World Bank’s Civil Society Fund. The organizations aim to combat qat consumption though producing advocacy materials such as brochures, sketches, songs, posters, caricatures, television adverts and documentary films.

Qat consumption causes a number of social problems in Yemen. It directly contributes to poverty as it consumes a significant part of a family’s budget in the place of other basic necessities. As many qat chewers are addicted to the leaf, they place the purchase of qat above that of other commodities needed by them and their family.

Qat consumption also has a negative effect on the national budget. In agriculture, qat cultivation consumes almost 30 percent of the available ground water, and dominates a large proportion of arable land as farmers plant it due to its quick returns. Land used in qat consumption cannot be used for edible crops that could feed the country reducing reliance on imports, or generate export income.

The financial support of NGOs intends to combat qat as part of the government’s third socioeconomic development plan for poverty reduction 2006-2010. The plan intends to reduce qat consumption in a gradual balanced way, encouraging people to voluntarily abandon qat for their own benefit.

The World Bank Country Director in Yemen, David Craig, stressed the important role played by NGOs in the development of their country, especially their dealing with issues such as qat. He explained that they are close to their own society and know exactly what points of deficiency their societies suffer from.

”The society trusts them because they have direct relations with it,” he said.