YEMEN: “We have run out of money” - Jewish leader
SANAA, 31 March 2009 (IRIN) - Members of the tiny Jewish community in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, say they have not received their monthly food rations or any government financial assistance for the past three months.
Rabbi Yahya Yusuf, leader of the 65-member community, told IRIN the Jews had been “suffering terribly” of late; many had been finding it very difficult to even feed their children.
“We have sold everything we possess to buy food for our families. We even sold our women’s gold rings. We have run out of money,” he said.
Yusuf said that two weeks ago they had staged a protest outside government headquarters to demand action.
“Prime Minister Ali Mujawwar has ordered payment of our monthly allowances and so has the minister of finance. But so far we have not received anything,” Yusuf said.
The community has been living in the Sanaa suburb of Tourist City.
The assistance they had been getting was 58,000 riyals (US$290), as well as 40kg of sugar, 50kg of wheat, and 40kg of rice per family, according to Yusuf. Most families had 12-18 members.
Yusuf said the cut in aid could be used as a pretext to remove them from the city.
“When we first lived here [in 2007], we got good food rations plus the financial assistance. But gradually the assistance has been reduced,” he said.
“We appeal to aid organisations and benevolent contributors to assist us,” said Yusuf.
Habbob Salem, 27, is a member of the community in Sanaa. He said he and his 18 family members lived in a small apartment with only three rooms.
“We have never gone through this hardship. We have no source of income to rely on and now we have run out of money. This is really very harsh for us,” he told IRIN.
The community was moved to Sanaa in 2007 after a number of Shia rebels in Saada Governorate, northern Yemen, threatened to kill them if they did not leave the area within 10 days.
Yusuf said their property in Saada had been seized by the rebels, though the rebels have denied this. “We have not received any compensation.”