Striking new drone images from the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, sheds light on the rarely accessible, rebel-held city, under siege for years and bombarded by airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition.
The images were filmed in June by Brazilian photojournalist Gabriel Chaim, who was given limited access by the Houthi rebels who control the city, from where they unseated the Yemeni government in 2015. The footage shows the damage wrought to some of the buildings, but also its enduring beauty and how life goes on amid the rubble and carnage.
The video was shot amid stalling peace talks to slow the siege of the vital port city of Hodeidah. Saudi-led pro-government forces are attacking the vital commercial hub, in a bid to seize it and cut off remaining supplies to Sanaa from the outside world. The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe that could take 250,000 lives.
The UN warned in May that 22 million Yemenis were dependent on humanitarian assistance or protection – over eight million of whom are at risk of starvation. Another 10 million could be at risk by the end of the year.In one house, where 13 people were said to have been killed in a 2015 missile strike, 19-year-old Salim Al-Alafe described how 10 of his relatives died.
“Uncle Hathallah used to sit outside, but on that day they went inside the house,” he said.
“We weren’t sure whether he was inside once the missile hit. We had to wait an hour or two before we entered to get all their bodies out inside. I live meters away, and if the missile hit my house, we would all be martyrs too.”
Human Rights Watch has accused the Saudi-led campaign of 85 instances of unlawful airstrikes – a charge that the coalition has denied. A few months ago, locals said, an airstrike hit a nearby gas station, as part of an alleged campaign to limit the fuel supply to the capital.
Protests erupted in June outside the UN building in Sanaa, in a bid to focus global attention on the bombardment. One woman at the protest said: “All the world knows what happens in Yemen and no country did anything for Yemen – didn’t help. All that has happened in Yemen is evidence that no one cares about us.”